Law enforcement officers across the state will have a greater focus on drivers who pose a danger to others as well as themselves.
Monday marks the start of 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. or Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, a multijurisdictional highway safety enforcement campaign aimed at reducing fatal crash counts during Georgia’s deadly holiday driving period from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
According to news releases from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, this summer marks the ninth consecutive season that police are rolling out waves of enforcement patrols across Georgia’s 159 Georgia counties—including Bartow—to crack down on dangerous, aggressive and high-speed drivers.
“Our partners in law enforcement will be launching the 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. campaign in all corners of the state this year,” said Harris Blackwood, GOHS director, in the release. “They will be looking for all kinds of unsafe motorists…from drunk drivers and aggressive speeders to distracted drivers who continue to text while behind the wheel.”
The start of the H.E.A.T. campaign coincides with another safety initiative—the annual May kickoff of the Click It or Ticket campaign focused on getting drivers and passengers to wear their seat belts. That campaign also begins today.
The campaigns go hand-in-hand, officials say, adding that the numbers show that speed kills. According to the GOHS, there were 217 speed-related fatalities across Georgia in 2010. Among drivers age 21 and older in all 2010 fatal crashes, those who were not speeding were twice as likely to be wearing seatbelts as those who were speeding at the time of their crash.
“Throughout the year, speed, drunk driving and unbuckled motorists and passengers are the top three causes of fatal crashes in Georgia,” Blackwood said. “But we’re approaching the summer months and the unofficial kickoff of the season on Memorial Day. Kids are out of school and more people are on the road taking vacations, so we are committed to getting dangerous drivers off the road.
The GOHS reports that also in 2010, 423 people older than the age of 5 were killed in crashes where they were not wearing seatbelts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s data from that year, seatbelts saved an estimated 12,546 lives nationwide, but of 22,187 passenger vehicle occupants killed, just over half of them were not wearing seatbelts at the time of their fatal crash.
“The bottom line is that those who choose not to wear a safety belt will feel the heat from our officers who will be cracking down on Click It or Ticket violators,” Blackwood said. “Our police officers, state troopers and sheriff’s deputies are prepared to ticket anyone who isn’t buckled up.
“Just like last year, we’re launching Summer H.E.A.T. campaign in conjunction with Click It or Ticket. At its core, H.E.A.T. is an enforcement campaign so that means if you’re speeding, you’ll be cited. If you fail to properly buckle your safety belt or that of your child, you will be cited. And we can guarantee that if you’re cited for drunk driving, you’ll go straight to jail,” Blackwood added.
The 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. campaign runs through Sept. 3. Click It or Ticket concludes June 3.
For more information on either campaign, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.