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Aggressive driving targeted in highway initiative

Georgia Public Safety Sgt. 1st Class James Steen cruised Interstate 75, on Wednesday, from the McDonough/Hampton exit, to Interstate 675, keeping an eye out for aggressive automobile drivers, who might be tailgating others, cutting too closely in front of trucks or other cars, speeding or otherwise driving recklessly.

He also was on the lookout for truck drivers, who might be driving too aggressively, or carrying loads that were over legal limits.

Steen is with the Motor Compliance Division of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, which –– in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration –– recently launched a highway-safety effort that is being called, "The Georgia Targeting Aggressive Cars and Trucks" program, or GTACT.

The program will run in Clayton and Henry counties through May, according to Steen. "It is our third day, and it has kind of slowed down," said Steen. "They have been driving like they've got some brains.

"We will be out here all day," he continued. "We'll leave and all go home, and then, all of a sudden, we get calls saying we got wrecks. It's like, once we leave, the checkered flag hits the ground ... Like, let's go."

On Wednesday, a truck driver was pulled over a Department of Public Safety officer, on I-675 near exit 2. He was pulled over, Steen said, because his load was overweight. "We pull the scales out and just weigh them," he said.

According to a joint statement released the Georgia Department of Public Safety, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, law enforcement officers are stopping people who drive unsafely around semi-trucks, whether the person is driving a car or another semi-truck.

The statement said the program uses communication, education and enforcement in high-risk corridors to reduce fatalities and injuries caused unsafe driving behaviors those operating passenger vehicles and commercial motor vehicles.

"Among the violations law enforcement will be watching for are: drivers who do not allow sufficient space before changing lanes in front of the big trucks, as well as drivers of both cars and trucks who are tailgating," said a news release issued the Georgia State Patrol.

"We are [basically] looking for aggressive drivers ..." Steen added. He said that officers and troopers are seeking passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles, who follow other cars too closely, commit improper lane changes, or fail to use turn signals.

"I believe that people just don't think it [accidents] will happen to them," said Steen. He explained that 15 officers and troopers were in Clayton and Henry counties Wednesday, along I-75 and I-675, to enforce driving laws, and educate drivers about the GTACT program and highway safety.

"If we see something out of the ordinary, we will pull them over," he said. Steen said that educational literature about GTACT is handed to drivers at all traffic stops. "We use all stops as an educational tool."