Highway safety training for troopers held at GSU

STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - More eyes on the highway could help prevent another tragedy.

It's not your imagination. More and more trucks travel up and down the highway. Sheriff Mike Kile sees it in Screven County.

"Truck traffic on Savannah River Parkway is tremendous, and on Georgia 17. In the late afternoon and evening hours, there may be more trucks than cars," said Sheriff Kile.

That traffic gets even more congested closer to the port of Savannah.

"For example, we know for a fact there are 40,000 trucks coming in and out of that port," said Harris Blackwood, Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

More traffic means more chance of a crash due to distracted drivers, driver fatigue and crowded roads. Deputies, police officers and other local agencies have traditionally left tractor trailers to the state guys - Motor Carrier Compliance Department.

Now everyone's joining forces. Local officers can stop trucks for speeding, weaving, following too closely and other traffic issues.

Georgia State troopers and others around the region gathered Thursday at Georgia Southern University for some lessons in how to spot trouble with tractor trailers.

"To have everybody trained and aware of what they can and what to look for is huge," said Col. Mark McDonough, Georgia State Patrol.

Col. McDonough said it is all about reminding the local officers of the authority they've had all along.

The training comes six months after a horrific interstate crash with a tractor trailer that killed five GSU nursing students on their way to clinical hours in Savannah.

University leaders say they welcomed the chance to host the workshop and help spread information.

"To have the officers here is symbolic for us and it gives us the chance to make real for them and how important and critical this training is," said GSU Interim President Dr. Jean Bartels.

The crash remains under investigation and loved ones of the students have announced civil suits against the truck driver and the company owners.

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