One of our favorite bumper stickers says “As a matter of fact, I do own the road!”
We like it not only because it’s funny, but because it so accurately describes the apparent attitude of so many motorists.
The government already spots us some 10 mph over the speed limit before moving in to write us tickets. But that’s not good enough for some. As a matter of fact, they do own the road.
Well, not this week anyway.
Officials in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee have banded together to form Operation Southern Shield – a coordinated, concentrated effort to get drivers in our five states to slow down.
The enhanced lifesaving effort, which ends today, has seen more law enforcement on our highways and roads than usual. And who knows? Maybe it’s saved a life or two.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has set a goal of reducing traffic fatalities by 1,000 a year nationwide. The Georgia Department of Transportation has set its own goal of reducing traffic fatalities by 41 a year, though the goal has been elusive: GDOT reports there were 1,432 fatalities, up from 1,170 in 2014.
So far this year, Georgia has recorded some 800 traffic deaths, while there have been over 500 in South Carolina. Richmond County had counted 14 traffic deaths so far this year as of Wednesday, an increase over nine over the same time last year.
Speed is obviously a leading factor in those deaths.
“If the sign says 70, the speed there is 70, and if the sign says 55, then it’s 55,” said Harris Blackwood, the director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “We want people to know that that road is engineered for that speed.”
They’re actually engineered for greater speeds, but should you take that chance? And ought you endanger the people around you by risking it?
We realize this is the South, and we embrace our freedoms tightly here. But the one that comes before “liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is “life.”
Slow down – even when no one’s watching.