ATLANTA, Ga. — Drivers, who feel the need for speed, should hit the brakes or be prepared to see blue lights in their rear view mirror during “Operation Southern Slow Down.”
The week-long speed enforcement and education campaign formerly called “Operation Southern Shield” returns in five Southeastern states from July 18 to 24. The campaign has a new name, but its mission to save lives by putting the brakes on reckless driving and speeding in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee has not changed.
State troopers and law enforcement officers will conduct concentrated enforcement on interstates and state highways in these five states for the entire week in an effort to stop the increase in drivers speeding well above the legal limit.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the United States saw an increase in overall traffic fatalities and speed-related traffic deaths in the last two years. Even though there was a 22% decline in total traffic crashes in 2020 compared to 2019 and an 11% decrease in the number of miles traveled in the country in 2020 compared to the previous year, the number of people killed in crashes in the U.S. in 2020 increased by 6.6% compared to 2019.
Speed was a factor in 29% of total traffic fatalities in the United States in 2020, which is a 3% increase from the previous year. The number of people killed in high-speed crashes increased by 17% in 2020, compared to 2019.
Almost one out of every three speeding drivers involved in a deadly crash in the United States in 2020 did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the crash, and 53% of speeding drivers who were involved in speeding crashes that year, were not wearing seat belts.
Federal highway safety data shows the youngest drivers on the road are involved in speed-related fatality crashes more than any other age group. Up to 35% of male drivers and nearly 18% of female drivers in the 15-to-20-year-old age group involved in deadly crashes in the United States in 2020 were speeding.
In the Southeast, the number of people killed in speed-related crashes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee increased by 14% in 2020, compared to 2019. There were 1,611 persons killed in traffic crashes that involved speeding in these five states in 2020 and 1,418 persons killed in crashes involving speeding the prior year.
During the first four years of “Operation Southern Slow Down,” federal data shows a 2% reduction in overall traffic deaths in the five Southeastern states during the campaign week compared to the prior week and a 14% reduction in speed-related traffic fatalities during the week of the campaign week compared to the prior week.
NHTSA offers the following safety reminders:
- Faster speeds require longer to stop a vehicle.
- The stopping distance quadruples every time a driver doubles their speed.
- Allow more stopping time for bigger vehicles when traveling downhill on wet or uneven pavement.
- Check the speedometer when approaching a curve. Apply the brakes before the curve.
- Remember, children will usually drive in the same manner they see adults do. Set a good example by driving below the speed limit.
Traveling on the same road with speeding drivers:
- Give speeding drivers plenty of space.
- If speeding drivers are following too closely, allow them to pass.
- Stay out of the far left lane unless passing another vehicle.
- Always wear a seat belt.
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