COLUMBIA – Drivers who feel the need to speed are urged to slow down or expect blue lights in their rearview mirror during “Operation Southern Slow Down.” Formerly known as “Operation Southern Shield,” the weeklong speed enforcement and education campaign returns in five Southeastern states.
A joint press conference between South Carolina and Georgia law enforcement agencies will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 18, at the I-20 Rest Area in Augusta, Georgia. The press conference will be livestreamed to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Facebook page. Drivers in South Carolina can expect to see an increased speed enforcement effort from the South Carolina Highway Patrol along several interstates and highways from July 19 – July 22.
During each state’s enforcement period, state troopers and local law enforcement officers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee will conduct concentrated enforcement on interstates and state highways to stop the increase in drivers traveling at speeds well above the legal limit. Law enforcement in the Southeast and across the nation have seen a substantial increase in the number of vehicles traveling at speeds over 100 mph in the past two years.
In the same timeframe, the United States has seen an increase in overall traffic fatalities and speed-related traffic deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Despite a 22 percent decline in total traffic crashes and an 11 percent decrease in the number of miles traveled in the country in 2020, the number of people killed in crashes in the U.S. increased by 6.6 percent compared to 2019.
Speed was a factor in 29 percent of total traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2020, a 3 percent increase from the previous year. The number of people killed in crashes involving speeding increased by 17 percent in 2020.
“We know that speed and aggressive driving continue to be challenges for law enforcement throughout the country. In addition to our normal enforcement efforts, the SC Department of Public Safety announced Area-Coordinated Enforcement Teams (ACE) last July 4th weekend along with new striped, unmarked vehicles,” said Robert G. Woods, IV, Director of the S.C. Department of Public Safety. “We have seen promising results with these efforts in intercepting dangerous and deadly driving behaviors, especially due to speed. We are proud to stand alongside our Southeastern partners for “Operation Southern Slow Down” as we work together to combat these deadly driving behaviors from border to border in the Southeast.”
“The majority of people driving in a safe and legal manner should not have to worry about their safety from selfish drivers who show no regard for their safety and the safety of others with their disregard for speed limits and other highway safety laws,” said Allen Poole, Director of the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety. “Georgia is once again ready to work with our friends in our neighboring states to protect all road users by putting these dangerous drivers on the shoulder of the road and issuing them a ticket.”
“Operation Southern Slow Down”, formerly “Operation Southern Shield”, began in 2017. From 2017 through 2020, traffic deaths in the five states participating in the enforcement campaign decreased 2 percent from the week before to the week of the crackdown, while speed-related traffic deaths dropped 14 percent during the same time.
NHTSA offers the following safety reminders:
- The necessary stopping distance quadruples every time a driver doubles their speed.
- Allow more stopping time for bigger vehicles, or when traveling downhill on wet or uneven pavement.
- Apply the brakes before entering a curve.
- Set a good example for young drivers by driving at the speed limit.
- If speeding drivers are following too closely, allow them to pass.
- Always wear a seat belt.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety includes the Highway Patrol, State Transport Police, Bureau of Protective Services, Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame. Our mission is to ensure public safety by protecting and serving the people of South Carolina and its visitors.