Last year, Georgia saw its first increase in traffic-related fatalities since 2005. While speed may not have been a factor in all of these accidents, sometimes we all need a reminder of the risks behind the wheel.
A new program conducted by the Milledgeville Police Department aims to do just that — remind us of the risks of aggressive and distracted driving and speeding. The Milledgeville HEAT program will run through August, during the heavy traffic summer months, focusing on traffic operations on local roadways with high numbers of citizen complaints and traffic accidents.
We can all pinpoint locations throughout town where traffic-related incidents are frequent. We all also know of areas where speeding is unfortunately the norm. There may be a sudden change in the speed limit, a dangerous hill or curve or speed limit signs that simply go unnoticed by motorists. Some of us may have even been the culprits, taking risks not only with our own lives but with the lives of our passengers and others as well.
Under the HEAT program, MPD will target a new location each month and gather traffic data. The first location is North Columbia Street.
During the first 12 days of the month, the department will utilize its RADAR Speed Detection Trailer to inform motorists of their speed.
Officers will also patrol the area providing educational information on the dangers of high speed driving and the proper use of seatbelts.
For the remainder of the month, Milledgeville Police officers will be strictly enforcing traffic violations in the selected areas.
Statewide Georgia’s annual traffic fatality total decreased annually from 2005, when 1,745 people died in crashes, through 2011, when 1,226 fatalities were tallied. That was until last year.
The numbers are not off to a positive start for 2013, either. Six traffic deaths were recorded at the start of the year alone — during the New Year’s Day travel period.
The number of teen deaths behind the wheel did decrease last year, certainly a promising sign, but the data point to how easily we may forget basic safe driving measures as adults. The local police HEAT program is our friendly reminder.
Georgia is not alone in seeing this type of increase. Nationwide last year, traffic fatalities saw a 9 percent jump in the first half of last year, the largest jump during the first six months of any previous year since data was first collected in 1975, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The goal of the local HEAT program is to remind us all of how our driving puts us all at risk. Citizen input is key to the program’s effectiveness, however. MPD is urging citizens to report or suggest locations throughout town where the HEAT program may be effective. If you know of an area where motorists are at risk, offer a suggestion to MPD. As we approach Memorial Day weekend and the heavy traffic of the summer vacation months, lets try to focus on bringing the 2013 numbers down for Baldwin County.