Law enforcement in South Carolina, Georgia promotes safe speed with week-long campaign |  Public safety and court news from the Aiken area

AUGUSTA — Slowing the pace and obeying traffic rules was the message stressed by law enforcement at a speed safety event on the freeway on Monday.

As part of Operation Southern Slow Down, the South Carolina Highway Patrol, Georgia Highway Patrol, South Carolina Department of Public Safety and military personnel from Fort Gordon met at the military facility to remind South Carolina and Georgia drivers of the importance of is to drive at a safe speed.

“We have seen an increase here and I think law enforcement presence has decreased during the pandemic. I think the driving is out of control and getting worse and worse,” said Lt. Col. Travis Manley of the SC Highway Patrol.

It is the seventh year the agencies have been involved in Operation Southern Slow Down, which is taking place in the five-state region of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama.

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of speeding through education and enforcement.

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Manley said speed is still the leading cause of injuries and fatalities in traffic accidents in South Carolina. He said there would be more patrols on the road to ensure safety and speed.

Alex Cabral of the Atlanta-based region’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said speeding is responsible for more than a quarter of traffic-related fatalities nationwide. According to NHTSA, 12,300 people died in traffic accidents in 2021, and speed was a factor in 29 percent of the cases.

He said people should take responsibility for their actions.

“We are here today to remind military members, their families and the people of the greater Augusta area to stop speeding and put an end to this risky behavior,” he said. “Please slow down.”

Allen Poole, director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said the partnership has helped reduce the number of accidents. He said the number of fatal road accidents has increased by more than 50 percent over the past five years.

“The data shows in the United States and the state of Georgia that speeding is becoming a bigger problem on our freeways,” he said.

Poole said he looks forward to working with Fort Gordon to reduce traffic accidents and encouraged motorists to drive at a safe speed, wear seat belts, refrain from using cellphones and not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He said the goal is to achieve zero fatalities on the highway.

Other ways to prevent accidents are to drive slower, give larger vehicles more time to stop, brake before entering a corner and set an example for younger drivers.

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“The goal of this week isn’t to write tickets, we’re not here to write tickets,” Poole said. “The goal here is for people to choose safe speeds for their own safety and, most importantly, for the safety of everyone else.”