Slow down! Operation Southern Shield underway

Published: Jul. 16, 2019 at 7:10 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - If you're driving anywhere in the southeast this week, you may want to pump the brakes and check the speed limit.

There’s a massive law enforcement push underway to target speeders in multiple states, including Alabama.

The third annual "Operation Southern Shield" campaign runs from July 15-21 and is a partnership of the states in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Region 4.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee are all participating.

"The goal is to reduce speeders on the roadway, which ultimately saves lives and reduces traffic crashes. We also want to enforce the impaired driving laws, move over laws and texting and driving- just general traffic enforcement trying to keep the roadways safe," explained Sgt. Michael Nelson, who oversees the Huntsville Police Department's DUI Task Force.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs administers grant programs that support traffic safety enforcement throughout the year, including the national "Click It or Ticket" and "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaigns. Grants administered by ADECA from NHTSA funds additional traffic safety patrols by state and local law enforcement agencies during heavy travel periods.

At a press conference in Phenix City on Tuesday, law enforcement from Georgia and Alabama worked to get the word out about the campaign.

Mike Lutzenkirchen, father of the late Philip Lutzenkirchen, former Auburn University football player from 2009-2012, spoke at the event. Since his son's passing in 2014, Mike Lutzenkirchen has served as executive director of the Lutzie 43 Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce the number of distracted and impaired driving accidents.

According to NHTSA, speeding has been a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in the United States over the last two decades. In 2017, speeding killed 9,717 people, which was about 26 percent of nationwide traffic fatalities that year.

Besides increasing the risk of being killed or seriously injured in a crash, speeding also reduces the effectiveness of seat belts and other safety equipment in your vehicle. This can lead to more severe injuries and increases the stopping distance after the driver perceives a danger, ADECA said.

Law enforcement in Alabama is also reminding drivers about the amended Safety Belt Law. Effective September 1st, all passengers will be required to wear a seat belt, whether they’re in the front or the back.

Priceville police posted a reminder on their Facebook page for drivers to have everyone in their car buckle up and it got lots of feedback and shares.

"If the car overturns, you're just as likely to be ejected or thrown from the vehicle in the back seat as you are in the front seat. There's really no difference, as far as the safety aspect, because you're just as subject to be fatally injured in the rear seat as you are in the front seat," said Officer Turk Jones.

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