Operation Southern Slowdown puts crackdown on speeders on roadways

Police agencies from five states are part of the joint effort to decrease traffic deaths at the wheel of drivers going over the speed limit

RINGGOLD (WDEF) – Rock star Sammy Hagar once sang “I Can’t Drive 55.”

He wrote that song in 1984 after getting a ticket in upstate New York for driving 62 miles an hour in a 55 zone.

It’s almost 40 years later, and the speed limit in Tennessee and Georgia jumped to 70.

This summer, police this summer are going to be watching whether you can drive 70…and only 70.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says drivers traveled less miles during 2020, to the tune of 13.2% less.

That same year, traffic fatalities rose 7.2% to close to 39,000. It was the deadliest year on highways since 2007.

That’s why five Southern states are joining forces to crack down on speeders this summer. It’s simply called “Operation Southern Slowdown.”

Lt. Bobby Clevenger of the Tennessee Highway Patrol says, “2021 was a challenging and unique year for all of us, where traffic seemed to be a little lighter. People didn’t travel as much. However, in Tennessee, our fatalities still rose.”

“That’s one of the goals for Operation (Southern) Slowdown: to make sure that the roads in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and here in Tennessee are safe for everyone to travel, whether you’re in a car, on a bicycle, or on foot,” added Allen Poole, the Director for Georgia’s Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

According to Tennessee’s Highway Safety Office, a driver who is speeding and ends up in a collision is three times more likely to be killed or seriously injured, or do that to someone else.

Buddy Lewis, the Director of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, expounded on that. “In Tennessee, we’ve had 93 pedestrians killed thus far in 2022. 93 lives are lost and they’re not even drivers. They’re pedestrians, and a lot of that is because of the driving behavior of our drivers.”

Lt. Timothy Nichols of the Georgia State Patrol said, “Nationwide, there is a dangerous trend in fatalities in crashes caused by excessive speed, and though it may seem harmless, the choice to speed is a deadly one.”

Here’s why he says that: The speed limit on an expressway in Georgia and Tennessee is 70 miles an hour. That speed means you travel over 100 feet per second. Three seconds means you travel a full football field. Going over 70 means less time to process what’s going on, less time to react, and less time to possibly save your life or someone else’s.

Poole: “Enough is enough. When it comes to people dying in crashes on our roads, especially those caused by speeding, we’re going to put a stop to it.”

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