After a hearty meal and meeting between officers from more than 40 North Florida and South Georgia law-enforcement agencies, Southern Region Traffic Enforcement Network officers exploded onto the streets of Lowndes County Friday night with a set of roadblocks.
Lowndes County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Adams said he hoped the roadblocks would deter unlawful driving and save lives.
“Tonight’s efforts are being put on to ensure that no one in Lowndes County will drive unlawfully or under the influence on the state’s highways,” said Adams. “We do it to create a big impact as we move into spring and we’re preparing to do more and more, that’s why we’re coming out with a big explosion this weekend.”
Composed of 12 counties, SRTEN is one of 16 regions connected to the Georgia Office of Highway Safety in Atlanta, said GOHS Law Enforcement Service Director Ricky Rich.
“We really believe in high-visibility traffic enforcement,” said Rich. “There are similar meetings like this that are held each month across the state. The reason these officers are here tonight is to save lives. We have a good meal, we pass on information, we do some training and then we hit the streets of Lowndes to enforce the law.”
It wasn’t just law-enforcement officers dining on the banquet catered by Pro Foods, Sonny’s Bar-B-Que, Texas Roadhouse, Sunset Farm Foods, Mom and Dad’s Restaurant, Publix and Chick-fil-a. A lifeflight crew was invited out to the meeting.
Lifeflight pilot Don Spells said he and his crew were invited so they could share information with officers and improve the efficiency of rescue operations.
“Law enforcement is usually first on the scene during an accident, so we want to inform them how to make the scene safer for a helicopter to access,” said Spells. “We deal in rapid transport of critically ill or injured people. We can go from point “a” to “b” at about two miles per minute, or 120 miles per hour, without having to follow a road or yield at intersections. We’re essentially a flying emergency room, because of all of our high-tech equipment and trained medical personnel.”
A large number of traffic fatalities in our state happen in vehicles that are otherwise survivable, had the proper precautions been taken, stated Rich. Get a designated driver if you’re going to drink, slow down and buckle up, stated Rich.
“Those are the three killers here in Georgia. We lost 1,236 lives in 2011 due to traffic crashes, and that’s way too many. So we’re doing everything we can, along with our law-enforcement partners across the state, to get those numbers below 1,000 by 2015. That’s what we’re doing out here tonight, trying to save lives.”
Officer will focus on the obvious roads, like Bemiss and North Valdosta Road, but will be giving attention to other roads that have high rates of unlawful driving, he stated.
“Lowndes County dropped from 19 traffic fatalities in 2011 to 11 in 2012, so we just saved eight people around the county,” said Adams. “If I can save one life, I’d do it daily. Our motto is, we hunt at night.”
There will also be a series of roadblocks scheduled for tonight, said Adams.