Law enforcement in 5 states launch week-long program Operation Southern Shield to reduce wrecks


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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ Police in five Southeastern states are launching a week-long program to reduce summertime wrecks and traffic deaths.

“Operation Southern Shield” starts Monday in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The campaign aims to reduce the number of drivers who are speeding, impaired, distracted and not wearing seat belts, according to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, which oversees grants used for the program.

In South Carolina, Highway Patrol Capt. Bob Beres said drivers can expect to see additional troopers on both interstate highways and back roads through Sunday.

But issuing additional traffic citations isn’t the goal, said Harris Blackwood of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia.

“They’re not trying to write tickets,” he told WSAV-TV. “They’re trying to get you to slow down.”

Extra patrols are being funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Statistics from the agency show wrecks killed about 35,000 people in the United States in 2015, an increase of 7 percent from 2014.

Traffic fatalities increased in 2015 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Deaths were down slightly in Tennessee.

Operation Southern Shield is being held in July between other major highway safety campaigns to coincide with the larger-than-normal numbers of drivers on roads because of summer travel, Alabama officials said.

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