SOUTH CAROLINA (WTOC) - If you’ve been out driving, you may have noticed more police cars out. That’s because Monday is the first day of Operation Southern Shield.
It’s a speed initiative hosted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Law enforcement officials say they chose to start the initiative this week because this is the time many people are getting their last minute traveling in before the end of the summer.
This is the second year for the initiative. The five states that are the main focus are Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina.
“I think it’s a good thing because too many times when you’re driving, whether you’re going to the store or even a trip, you see people abusing the law by speeding. Speeding gets you nowhere," said Bolhai Amusa, who is visiting South Carolina from Atlanta.
Amusa and his fiance are in town celebrating their one-year anniversary. He says in the midst of traveling, they have definitely seen an increased presence in patrol on the roads.
“We’re here for the weekend, and especially last night, we noticed like numerous cop cars posting up just waiting to catch those speeders," he said.
The initiative was launched in order to cut down on speed-related incidents.
“Last year in Georgia, we wrote over 11,000 tickets. Over 8,000 of them were for speeding. There were around 3,000 for seat belt violations, over 600 for distracted driving, and over 500 DUI arrests during that week," said Powell Harrelson, Law Enforcement Coordinator, Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
Harrelson says in 2017, nearly 9,700 people died of speed-related crashes across the country.
“In 2017, here in Georgia, we had 268 die in speed-related crashes, so we’re trying to drive that number down. We’d like that number to be zero.”
Harrelson says July is the time many people are traveling, which is why they decided to start the initiative this week.
“It sets a clear message that when you have plenty of enforcement out there and you see law enforcement out there working, it gets people to slow down. Our goal is we would rather not write any tickets. We would like everybody to have 100 percent compliance.”
This is a message Amusa says he’s okay with.
“My ideology is like, we’re going to get there eventually, so there’s no need to speed. I’m not in a hurry, and even when we are in a hurry, I make sure that I don’t get a ticket or anything or put anyone in danger or get into a potential accident.”
The overall message law enforcement is trying to spread is to slow down and buckle up.
The initiative will be in effect until Sunday.