CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Savannah-Chatham Metro Police and the Georgia State Patrol continue their aggressive approach on distracted, unrestrained, impaired drivers in Savannah.
This weekend, they wrapped up their third Operation Rolling Thunder road check
The number of people driving around without seatbelts on is the most surprising statistic. Nearly one in five who come through these checkpoints aren't wearing a seatbelt.
Almost 100 officers from Savannah and statewide departments are all working together in the operation.
"Hopefully we're making an impact on the community and everybody will change their driving patterns or adjust their driving patterns I should say," said Lt. Anthony Gallo with the SCMPD Traffic Unit.
Two of the biggest contributors in deadly crashes are alcohol and not wearing a seatbelt. Looking at the DUI numbers, they aren't as bad. Each week, only between 3 and 4 percent of the citations have been for DUI's.
The seatbelt numbers are a little more surprising. In the first road check, about 16 percent of the tickets were seatbelt citations. That number jumped to 20 percent in the second road check, and then to 22 percent in the third.
"Those numbers are higher than I would have expected," Lt. Gallo said.
Their message to these people and others like them who don't wear seatbelts is simple: it's your best chance of surviving a bad crash.
"Any vehicle that's moving and stopping suddenly, your body and anything in the car is going to move around so if you're not belted in, your body will move," Lt. Gallo said.
Lt. Gallo hopes these road checks change people's habits, encouraging them to buckle up, pay attention and drive sober.
"Everybody does things by habit. So, people who don't wear their seatbelt, it's not a one-time thing. It's, they're normally not wearing a seatbelt," said Lt. Gallo.
Drivers notice this increased presence.
"I don't do anything different. I'm wearing my seatbelt. I drive straight but I see a lot of other people throwing stuff out of their cars when they go up to them," said Ethan Lesondak.
"I definitely would say I appreciate it. They're putting their life on the line to keep us safe so that's something I do appreciate," said Adam Rhodaback.
Metro police said their officers will be out all summer. They encourage you to follow the law or prepare for the consequences.
Lt. Gallo said the officers who have participated from other parts of the state have taught metro officers new tactics for enforcement. He said they'll take what they've learned to the streets.