As the summer season kicks off, motorists should mind their speed on Georgia highways.
Starting today, law enforcement statewide will tighten its watch of the roads through a campaign known as “100 Days of Summer HEAT.” HEAT stands for “Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic.”
This will be the eighth straight year police officers and state troopers will crack down on dangerous, aggressive and high-speed drivers, as well as “motorists who still insist on texting while driving,” said Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
“These are the people making Georgia’s roadways dangerous for everyone,” he added.
The summer campaign “remains an important addition to our list of proven life-saving countermeasures,” Blackwood said.
It spans two notoriously busy highway times, Memorial Day and July Fourth holidays. Otherwise, drivers hit the roads in the summer months for vacations, day trips and other getaways — and with gas prices expected to drop, the temptation to press the pedal could heighten.
In the Hall County area, Lake Lanier typically is a big tourist draw.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety hasn’t released its holiday forecast on the number of wrecks and fatalities on state roads.
Last year, traffic estimates from the Crash Reporting Unit at the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia State Patrol were for 1,972 traffic crashes, 696 injuries and 15 traffic deaths during the 78-hour reporting period for the Memorial Day weekend.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is launching the summer campaign, as it has in the past, as part of another safety initiative, “Click It or Ticket.”
That effort calls for police agencies running road checks, starting today and running through the Memorial Day travel period, to see if drivers and passengers are buckling up when they get into vehicles.
“At its core, HEAT is an enforcement campaign, so that means if you’re speeding, you’ll be cited,” Blackwood said. “If you fail to properly buckle your safety belt or that of your child, you will be cited. And we can guarantee that if you’re cited for drunk driving, you’ll go straight to jail.”
In 2009, 452 Georgians died in traffic crashes because they did not buckle up.
State officials and law enforcement are holding news conferences across the state to proclaim the safety message, including Dahlonega on Friday.
The event will take place at North Georgia College & State University’s Pine Valley Pavilion, 3767 Dawsonville Highway, at 1 p.m.
Officers from the Appalachian Trail Traffic Enforcement Network and state troopers will attend.