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Officers to step up highway enforcement
100 days of Summer H.E.A.T. begins

By Jason A. Smith

For the sixth straight year, law enforcement professionals in Georgia will be out in full force over the Memorial Day weekend, as they begin a statewide crackdown on unsafe driving.

Local police departments, along with the Georgia State Patrol, are currently participating in the "100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T." program. H.EA.T., stands for "Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic."

According to a written statement issued this week by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), the endeavor is designed to reduce the number of highway fatalities from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The 2009 program, which began Monday, coincided with the onset of Georgia's Click It or Ticket safety-belt enforcement initiative, according to GOHS Public Affairs Director Jim Shuler.

"Law enforcement agencies across the state are once again rolling out a full-scale, high-profile enforcement mobilization to crackdown on the most dangerous speed offenders," Shuler wrote in the agency's statement. "In 2009, GOHS will continue one of the longest, toughest, most ambitious ... initiatives ever launched in this state. The summer-long enforcement campaign is designed to make those high-risk drivers feel the H.E.A.T., on their checkbooks, with big points on their license and higher insurance rates."

GOHS Director Bob Dallas further emphasized the need, in the statement, for officers to focus their attention on motorists who drive too fast. According to him, enforcing traffic laws is a crucial element in saving lives.

"Why? Because speed kills," said Dallas. "Our highway safety data shows speed, impaired driving and unbuckled drivers and passengers are still the top three causes of fatality crashes, not only during the summer holidays, but throughout the year. The message to Georgia's high-risk drivers is clear. Safety belt, DUI, and speed law violations will not be tolerated."

The GOHS reported more than half of Georgians killed in automobile crashes in 2007 were not wearing seat belts. Nationwide, 37,313 people were killed in traffic crashes last year, according to the agency.

The state's Click It or Ticket campaign ends May 31.