(Media release from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety):
State and local law enforcement officers in five states are warning speeding drivers to lift their right foot off the gas pedal or they could find themselves holding a ticket in their hands. The warning comes before the start of “Operation Southern Slow Down”, a multistate speed enforcement campaign that begins Monday, July 17 and runs through Sunday, July 23.
State and local law enforcement officers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee will spend this week conducting concentrated enforcement on interstates and major highways in their respective states.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 12,330 people were killed in crashes involving speeding in the United States in 2021, which is a 28 percent increase from 9,592 persons killed in crashes involving speeding in the U.S. in 2019. Speeding was a factor in 28 percent of total fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2021 compared to 26 percent in 2019.
In the five states participating in Operation Southern Slow Down, there were 1,773 persons killed in crashes involving speeding in 2021, which is a 17 percent increase from 2019 when 1,513 persons were killed in crashes involving speeding. Speed was a factor in 24 percent of the total fatal crashes in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee in 2021 compared to 2019 when speed was a factor in 22 percent of the total fatal crashes in these five states.
Traffic data has shown speeding greatly increases the chances of crashes occurring and higher speeds usually increase the chances of serious or fatal injury to those involved in a traffic crash. Speeding not only endangers the life of the driver but also those riding in their vehicle and others on the road, including pedestrians and bicyclists.
The United States Department of Transportation’s Safe System Approach works to eliminate traffic deaths through safer people, speeds, vehicles, roads, and improved post-crash medical treatment. The underlying principle behind the Safe System Approach is mistakes happen every day, including driving. The goal when a mistake happens behind the wheel is that there will not be a crash, and everyone involved will survive if a crash occurs. Driving at safe, legal speeds will help to make sure more people avoid fatal or serious injuries in traffic crashes.
“We are focused on where we are going when driving but it is important to remember that everyone traveling on the road is also heading somewhere important to them and driving at slower speeds will help you and everyone safely reach their destination, said Allen Poole, Director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “The data from the last two years has shown driving at higher speeds has been one of the factors in the increase in traffic deaths on our nation’s highways and eliminating traffic deaths from illegal and dangerous driving behaviors is the number one goal in the ‘Operation Southern Slow Down’ campaign.”
“We are proud to once again work with our Southeastern states and local partners during this Operation Southern Slow Down enforcement period,” said Robert G. Woods, IV, Director of the SC Department of Public Safety. “Our troopers and officers will focus on reducing the deadly driving behaviors, such as speeding and aggressive driving, that contributed to approximately two out of every five deaths last year during the ‘100 Deadly Days of Summer.’ Although South Carolina has seen fewer highway fatalities than in years past, we continue to work tirelessly to educate the public and promote safer driving habits.”
“Dangerous driving behaviors continue to threaten the safety of our roadways,” said Buddy Lewis, Director of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office. “Excessive speeding and reckless driving are becoming too common. We are asking the motoring public to slow down, exercise due care, and follow the traffic safety laws. Let’s work together to save lives.”
“When motorists make the decision to engage in dangerous speeds on our roadways, they needlessly place themselves and other road users at risk of deadly outcomes,” said Will N. Watts, Jr., P.E., FDOT Assistant Secretary for Engineering and Operations, and the Florida Governor’s Representative for Highway Safety. “FDOT remains committed to achieving its target of zero fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways, and we are proud to join transportation and law enforcement partners across the state – and our neighboring southern states— in the Operation Southern Slow Down effort. Together, we can help get everyone home safely.”
“As more motorists travel on our roads and highways during the busy summer travel period, this joint effort with our partners in the Southeast will serve as a strong reminder to obey the speed limit and other traffic safety laws,” said Kenneth Boswell, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. “We all want to arrive at our destinations safely, and ADECA is pleased to support our law enforcement officers as they work hard to increase safety and prevent injuries and deaths from automobile crashes.”
“Operation Southern Slow Down” began in 2017 and now runs concurrent with NHTSA’s “Speeding Slows You Down” awareness and enforcement campaign that began on July 10th and will end July 31st. The NHTSA campaign like “Southern Slow Down” works to keep drivers and passengers safe by educating them on the dangers of speeding and the importance of obeying legal speed limits.
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 speedometer when approaching a curve. Apply the brakes before the curve.
- Remember, children will usually drive in the manner they see adults. Set a good example by driving at 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 it is passing another vehicle
- Always wear a seat belt