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A spirit that is not afraid

New highway safety campaign decreases deaths by over 50 percent

In December of 2016, region four of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, convened for a meeting in Atlanta and conceived a special safety campaign to reduce speeding-related deaths. NHTSA region four includes Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida.

According to the Center for Advanced Public Safety, state speeding-related fatalities have gone up in recent years. From 2012-16 speeding-related deaths increased by over 14 percent. 

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, or ADECA, headed up efforts to end that through Operation Southern Shield, this year. 

William Whatley Jr., Public Safety Unit Chief from the Traffic Safety Division at ADECA, termed the campaign as a “regional high visibility enforcement effort aimed specifically at speeding.” From July 17 to July 23 law enforcement officials mobilized against drivers who were speeding with the goal of achieving a zero fatality rate for the seven-day period.

Although that zero fatality goal was not achieved, preliminary data shows that in Alabama, deaths decreased by over 50 percent between the campaign week this year and the same week last year. The same decrease was achieved when comparing July 17-23, 2017 with the average summer week last year. 

If the program was successful in decreasing fatalities, Operation Southern Shield could become an annual campaign and year-round operations may be changed to crack down more on speeding, Whatley said. 

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