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‘Worst year we have had’: As deaths rise, Ga. S.C. crack down on speeding

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 11:04 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia and South Carolina law enforcement officers have kicked off a weeklong speed enforcement mobilization aimed at slowing down the rising number of people killed in traffic crashes in the past 12 months.

Operation Southern Shield will run through Saturday in the two-state region as well as Alabama, Florida and Tennessee.

“This year we are already about 20 percent from over from where we were last year as far as fatalities. That is just way too many,” said Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Law Enforcement Services Director Roger Hayes.

This is the first time since 2007 since Georgia has had more than 800 people killed in traffic crashes during the first half of the calendar year.

“This is probably the worst year we have had in several years,” Hayes said. “We just need to get people to slow down, buckle up, put the phones down, and drive in a way that you don’t have a crash. And we don’t continue to lose valuable Georgians.”

The campaign comes during what’s known as the “100 Deadly Days of Summer,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when traffic fatalities typically increase.

Add to that the extra traffic from people getting out and about as the pandemic eases.

“There is just a lot more traffic and it just creates a more serious issue with fatalities and serious injury crashes across the state,” Hayes said.

Across the Savannah River, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety says 551 people have died on South Carolina roads so far in 2021, compared to 523 this time in 2020.

There were more than 10,900 speed-related collisions on South Carolina roadways during the 100 Deadly Days of Summer in 2020. They account for more than 30 percent of total collisions during that same period.

Nationally, the percentage of overall fatalities on rural roads increased from 18 to 22 percent in 2020, and the overall number of traffic deaths on rural roads increased by 11 percent from 6,755 in 2019 to 7,524 in 2020.

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