MADISON COUNTY, Ala. — Monday marks the beginning of Operation Southern Shield. It’s a week-long initiative by law enforcement across Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, that aims to reduce traffic related deaths.
“We’re utilizing all local law enforcement agencies, locally and state-wide, to reach out to the public to let them know that our main objective this week is zero fatalities. One, two, three fatalities, that’s too many,” explained Sergeant Brent Patterson with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.
Sgt. Patterson said based on the numbers he’s seen, most traffic fatalities are due to distracted driving.
“We’re urging the public to listen, wear your seat belt, put your phone down, watch your speed limit,” he said.
That might seem simple, but he said it’s things people don’t do anymore. That’s where this initiative comes in.
“This week we’re going to be out in force, going to be out in high numbers, making sure that we get their attention,” said Sgt. Patterson.
“There’s a lot of hot spots that we will be concentrating on, can I sit here and tell you exactly where we’ll be? We’ll be everywhere,” he said.
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But for Madison County drivers, Patterson said if you’re following the rules of the road, this shouldn’t affect you.
“If you wear your seat belt, and you do the speed limit, and you pay attention to the laws, you have nothing to worry about,” he said.
However, that’s not always the case for some people.
“You’re going to have fatalities, you’re going to have accidents that happen. But I do know this, there are a lot of accidents and fatalities that happen that shouldn’t happen in the first place,” said Patterson.
And those are the ones law enforcement in the area are going to target.
“Those are the ones we’re going to come after. If you’re going to drive, and you’re not going to pay attention and adhere to the state and local laws, we’re coming for you,” he said.
So far this year, Alabama has seen 341 traffic fatalities. Sgt. Patterson said Operation Southern Shield isn’t about writing tickets.
“We don’t want to write tickets. We want people to understand that our concern is zero fatalities. We’re going to do whatever it takes, we’re going to use every available resource that we have to make sure that happens.”