(WKRG) — From July 19-24, state and local law enforcement agencies in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee will join forces for a week-long, high-visibility enforcement and awareness campaign to reduce fatalities and serious injuries by getting motorists to obey speed limits on roadways from local to interstate highways.
The initiative is called “Operation Southern Shield.”
“Nationwide, there is a dangerous trend in fatalities and crashes caused by excessive speed, and, though it may seem harmless, the choice to speed is a deadly one,” said Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Kevin J. Thibault.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), in 2019, speeding killed more than 9,000 people nationwide, with almost 47 percent of speeding drivers in fatal crashes failing to wear a seat belt. NHTSA says one of the primary reasons that speed-related crashes have such detrimental effects is that the increased velocity and force of impact works against the usefulness of safety equipment, such as seat belts and airbags.
Preliminary 2020 data from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) shows traffic fatalities increased by 4.67 percent from 2019 to 2020, despite a 15.31 percent decrease in total crashes statewide. In 2020, speeding was a contributing factor in about 12 percent of traffic crash fatalities statewide, resulting in almost 400 fatalities.
“Speeding endangers not only the life of the speeder, but all road users around them, including law enforcement officers and other public safety workers,” said Col. Gene S. Spaulding, director of the Florida Highway Patrol.