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Better safe than sorry! Georgia drivers will want to lay off the gas now more than ever this week due to a state initiative. 

State law enforcement officers will be handing out more speeding and reckless driving tickets through Sunday for Operation Southern Slowdown, a law enforcement effort between Georgia and four other southern states.

Along with Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee, Georgia aims to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities with the initiative.

Statewide and nationwide, there has been an increase in deadly crashes.

Carmen Hayes, regional administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reported that more than 40,000 people were killed in traffic crashes nationwide in 2021 at a press conference Tuesday. It marks an increase, Hayes said, of about 10% from 2020.

“These are more than numbers,” Hayes said. “These are people who have lost their lives on our roadways. People that will be missed by family and friends. As a society, we should not accept any deaths on our roads.”

Director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Allen Poole said the number of people killed in crashes caused by speeding in the state increased by about half from 2019 to 2020.

About 1600 people were killed in traffic crashes statewide in 2020, according to data from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Since Operation Southern Slowdown started in 2017, over 55,000 speeding tickets and 3200 DUI arrests have been made by Georgia officers enforcing the weeklong initiative, Poole reported.

“Enough is enough,” Poole said. “When it comes to people dying in crashes on our roads, especially those caused by speeding, we’re gonna put a stop to it.”

The initiative is not a cash grab by the state, Poole said. 

“If it was about money, we wouldn’t be standing here before you today in front of the TV cameras giving you a warning about what we’re doing for the rest of the week,” Poole said.

Speeding tickets in Georgia typically cost hundreds of dollars and result in “points” on one’s drivers license, which could result in suspension.

Elena Hubert is an intern with The Clayton Crescent. She is a journalism student at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

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