News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Speeders beware! Richmond County deputies say traffic fatalities were through the roof last year, so you can expect to see more blue lights on the highway.
They say they've already increased road patrols, and in the next three months, you can expect to see even more of them on the roads to help cut down on accidents and fatalities.
Robert Bradley isn't too happy about the increase, saying, "They say 45, I'm going 55. You know what I'm saying? I'm not going to lie about it, that's just me."
But he may be in trouble because he's about to start seeing a lot more blue lights on Richmond County roads.
"We're shifting it to make it where we're more visible," said Capt. Scott Gay with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
Gay says it's part of the new community policing model, and it's all in an effort to cut down on traffic accidents and fatalities.
"There's more people allocated for traffic enforcement," he said.
But that's not all. For the next three months, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office will be teaming up with the Office of Highway Safety for Operation Thunder.
They're going to be cracking down on things like seat belts, distractions, and of course, speeding.
Tyshaun Legette, an Augusta driver, and says he's excited about the changes.
"I think it's good. It will stop accidents, unnecessary accidents that cause traffic backup," Legette said.
Deadly traffic accidents in Richmond County have seen a huge increase. In 2010, there were 19 fatalities, two years later there were 44.
"With all the crazy people out on the road, it could be my daughter who gets hit," Legette said.
"I worry about my girls, them driving anywhere," Willie Mae Mincey said.
For people like Mincey who have families to worry about, she says the extra eyes on the road will be a welcome addition.
"Being distracted has a lot to do with young folks anyways, by police being out in this area, it helps a lot," she said.
Operation Thunder begins on Valentine's Day, but deputies say even after the three-month program is over, you can still expect to see more deputies on patrol than what you've been used to.