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New program in 5 southern states targets speeders and less-than-safe drivers to reduce wrecks

We’re all guilty of it. On the way to our summer vacation destination, we’re cruising down the highway with a lead foot on the gas. While going a little over the speed limit may just seem like an innocent way to get our vacations underway sooner, law enforcement in five Southern states are taking the matter seriously.

So seriously, in fact, that a new weeklong initiative to reduce summertime accidents and traffic deaths began this week.

This new program targeted at speeders and less-than-safe drivers is called “Operation Southern Shield.” It began Monday in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, and is designed to address the larger-than-normal numbers of drivers on roads because of summer travel.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is funding extra traffic patrols in these states. According to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the department overseeing the funding, the campaign’s goal is to reduce the number of drivers who are speeding, distracted, impaired, and not wearing seat belts.

And for good reason. Recent statistics show automobile accidents killed almost 35,000 people in the United States in 2015, an increase of 7 percent from 2014.  Traffic related deaths increased in 2015 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, while fatalities were slightly down that year in Tennessee.

The goal of Operation Southern Shield isn’t to hand out traffic tickets; the real aim is to get drivers to slow down and drive carefully, so they and their fellow motorists arrive at their destinations safely. Reports on the program indicate that drivers will see more troopers on both interstate highways and back roads through Sunday.

So this summer, and always, drive safely and keep an eye out for Smokey Bear.

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