By Jason A. Smith
Driving well above the speed limit today can earn Georgia motorists a hefty new fine.
Under the state's new Super Speeder Law, the Department of Driver Services (DDS) will issue $200 fines by mail to drivers caught traveling at certain speeds on Georgia roads. The law was set to take effect today.
Katie Fallon, the assistant public information officer for the Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), said the purpose of the measure is to promote safe driving.
"In 2007, there was more than a speed-related crash per day in Georgia," said Fallon. "It's not about collecting money. It's about saving lives."
She acknowledged that "very few states" have laws in place similar to Georgia's Super Speeder legislation.
"Georgia would like to be a trailblazer in bringing speeding deaths down," Fallon said.
The new law levies the $200 state fine against any driver convicted of speeding at 75 mph or more on any two-lane road, and any driver guilty of traveling 85 mph or faster anywhere in Georgia, according to the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.
The new fine is assessed on top of any local fines already in effect in the jurisdiction where the speeding offense occurs.
The Governor's Office of Highway Safety said in a statement that in 2008, speeding was cited as a factor in 15,753 crashes in Georgia, 7,187 injuries and 309 deaths.
According to the agency, drivers who fail to pay a Super Speeder fine will be subject to a suspension of their driver's licenses, and will have to pay an additional $50 reinstatement fee.
Henry County Police Sgt. Randy Lee has worked in the department's traffic division for the past seven years, and said he has investigated numerous traffic crashes in which someone was killed or injured.
Lee said speeding -- including driving too fast for certain weather conditions -- accounts for approximately 30 percent of those cases.
"They're not necessarily traveling at a high rate of speed," the sergeant said. "But, they're driving at speeds that are greater than the maneuver or roadway allows, in order to make that turn or that lane change safely."
Lee anticipates the Super Speeder Law will encourage drivers to drive more carefully. He said the timing of the legislation's enactment may assist in its success.
"I think if it gets advertised enough, it will help tremendously," said Lee. "This is a great time to introduce it, because of the economy. The legislation is hitting people where it hurts the most -- in their pocketbooks."