Originally created 01/05/03

Police battle to head off road's speeding problem

WINDER, Ga. - Georgia Highway 316 is the front line in a battle between stubborn speeders and the officers who are bent on slowing them down.

But over the 11 years that Georgia 316 has connected Athens and Lawrenceville, neither side has scored a decisive victory in the fight over how fast traffic will flow.

The Barrow County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia State Patrol summon dozens of drivers to Barrow County Probate Court every month to answer for speeding tickets issued along the 18 miles of the highway that lie in Barrow.

Most of those drivers pay fines of about $150, only to hit the roads again - and, in many cases, to speed again.

They are 27 years old, on average, moving an average of 84 mph in the 65 mph zone, according to a survey of one month's worth of tickets issued along Barrow County's portion of the highway.

In the sample month of September, Barrow County Probate Court processed 34 tickets issued by the Georgia State Patrol. Twenty were for speeding on Georgia 316. Thirty-one of the 112 tickets issued by the Barrow County Sheriff's Office were for speeding on the highway.

"316 just about cost me my license," 24-year-old Athens resident Clay Garner says. "I don't think it's a battle between the speeders and the cops; we're just gambling on a bad risk," he said of speeders.

Mr. Garner has gotten so many tickets over the years that he has lost count, but he said he has resolved to change his ways.

"I'm not going to speed like a bat out of hell anymore," he said.

That decision didn't come until he reached the very limit of losing his driving privileges by earning at least 10 tickets, with the most recent being on Georgia 316.


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