Fatalities and crashes down, speeding tickets up in Richmond Co.

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, July 1, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- This week is known to be one of the deadliest weeks of the entire year on the roads.

On Monday, ahead of the July 4th holiday, the Georgia State Patrol, the Governors Office of Highway Safety, the Department of Natural Resources and the Richmond County Sheriff's Office held a joint news conference to talk about Operation Zero Tolerance. They are urging people to designate a driver and stay off the roads if you've been drinking.

So far this year, the state has had 25 more fatalities on roadways than last year, but in Richmond County, that number is down 50 percent.

The new traffic division has been in effect for six months and they're considering that time a success.

"Our overall mission was actually to lower the fatalities, lower the crashes and lower the injuries, and we're accomplishing that," said Lt. Ramone Lamkin with the Traffic and Safety Division.

Drivers like Jonathan White have noticed the difference. He lives off Mike Padgett Highway and has seen dozens of accidents over the years, but recently, he says it's gotten better.

"The accidents have gone down a little bit," he said.

Crashes in Richmond County are down 37 percent, but not all the numbers are lower. Speeding tickets are up 41 percent from this time last year.

"It is a necessary evil," Lamkin said. "We have more people out there actually enforcing the traffic laws, so the tickets will rise, but you're seeing the result, and it has been a decrease in the actual crashes."

Operation Thunder has also increased total citations to a little more than 10,000.

"We're not in the revenue business," Lamkin said. "We're not writing tickets to get revenue, we're writing tickets to save lives, and if a warning will accomplish that, that's what we will do. We just wanna make sure we're saving lives and we're out there being visible."

Especially in the areas that are still giving them problems.

"We have the crashes on 56 are still a problem area for us. Some parts of Bobby Jones and Deans Bridge, so we still are focusing our manpower in those areas to try and lower the crashes," Lamkin said.

That's something White says he hopes will make his drive home a little safer.

Richmond County will soon have a new look on the road. They've ordered 30 Dodge Chargers to replace the Crown Victorias for both the patrol division and the traffic division. The first one should be hitting the streets on Friday.

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