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State to turn up H.E.A.T. on seat belt enforcement

POSTED: May 23, 2011 7:44 p.m.

Summer 2011 marks the eighth consecutive season that police are rolling out waves of enforcement patrols across 159 Georgia counties to crack down on dangerous, aggressive, and high-speed drivers. The 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. campaign is a multi-jurisdictional highway safety enforcement strategy designed to reduce high-fatality crash-counts during Georgia’s potentially deadly holiday driving period from Memorial Day through the Fourth of July and Labor Day.  H.E.A.T. stands for “Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic.”

“Police officers, deputies and state troopers in all corners of the state will be setting their sights on dangerous speeders, impaired drivers and motorists who still insist on texting while driving. These are the people making Georgia’s roadways dangerous for everyone,” said Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS). “We’ve been doing this since 2004 and the ‘100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T.’ initiative remains an important addition to our list of proven life-saving countermeasures”

H.E.A.T. enforcement began Monday as law enforcement agencies throughout the state once again deploy their full-scale, high-profile enforcement mobilization to round-up the most dangerous traffic offenders.

“Once again, we’re launching this year’s Summer H.E.A.T. campaign in conjunction with the beginning of the annual May commencement of Click It or Ticket,” Blackwood said. “At its core, H.E.A.T. is an enforcement campaign so that means if you’re speeding, you’ll be cited. 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.”

Safety experts regard speeding as a high-risk behavior behind the wheel, right along with texting and DUI. Despite advancements in vehicle safety and passenger protection, national crash data shows a continuous increase in the number of deaths and injuries attributed to speed since 1995. National research shows Georgia drivers among the highest illegal speeders in the country.

“Throughout the year, speed, drunk driving and unbuckled motorists and passengers are the top three causes of fatal crashes in Georgia,” Blackwood said. “But the summer represents a crucial time period because kids are out of school and more families hit the road for vacation. And unfortunately, Georgia experiences an average of one speed-related death per day.”

During the 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T., police will be also enforcing the state’s new booster seat legislation that Governor Nathan Deal just signed into law. The new law requires children to be restrained in a child passenger safety restraint device until they are 8 years old.

“While some exemptions do exist, this law exists to protect our precious cargo at a time when far too many 6-to-8-year-olds are visiting the emergency room from crash injuries sustained while improperly restrained,” Blackwood said.

“We’re not about gimmick slogans and campaign tag lines. Speeding will really cost you, both literally and figuratively,” Blackwood added. “But it’s not about the money, it’s about saving lives. All of these laws are there for a reason…to protect both the people who might break them and the innocent motorists around them. So no matter where you’re going, remember to slow down, buckle up and drive sober. Because whether it’s around the corner to the grocery store or on a road trip for summer vacation, officers in Georgia will be waiting to take aggressive drivers off the road during Summer H.E.A.T.”

In May, those H.E.A.T. teams will focus enforcement on late-night safety belt violators during Click It Or Ticket. For more information, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.

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