COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) — The South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) has announced the return of their speed crackdown — Operation Southern Slow Down — aimed at reducing traffic collisions across the southeast.

The weeklong campaign will increase the number of state troopers and law enforcement officers monitoring speed limits in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, according to the SCDPS press release.

South Carolina Highway Patrol will be increasing its enforcement effort along several interstates and highways from July 19-22.

“It’s in place to get individuals on our highways and roadways to slow down in order to reach the goal that we all have — and that’s zero traffic deaths,” said Tyler Tidwell, South Carolina Highway Patrol lance corporal and community relations officer.

South Carolina reported almost 1,200 traffic deaths last year. SCDPS said there are about 75 fewer traffic fatalities so far in 2022 than this time last year, and hopes this week’s efforts will keep those numbers low.

“We just want to see people get to their destination safely,” Tidwell said.

Tidwell said South Carolina has seen a substantial increase in the number of drivers traveling over 100 miles per hour in the last two years, as well as instances of reckless and aggressive driving.

He urges drivers to keep an appropriate distance between vehicles, check blind spots before changing lanes and try to avoid road rage.

“We just want people to know they have to share the road and do what’s right,” Tidwell said. “We don’t want you to put yourself in a situation where you could be in danger on our roadways.”

Sergeant Kyle Ryan of the Charleston Police Department said the agency will be increasing their patrol of major roadways, including I-26, 5-26, US-17 and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, throughout the week.

“It’s all about education and enforcement,” Ryan said. “Lower the number of crashes, lower the number of injuries, lower the number of deaths and let people get on to where they’re trying to go.”

The campaign began in 2017 and was formerly known as Operation Southern Shield. From 2017 to 2020, the states participating in the campaign saw a 14% decrease in speed-related traffic deaths, according to SCDPS.

“It’s been a great campaign, and we’ve seen success with it, and we definitely hope it can continue,” Tidwell said.

One Charleston driver said while he has not noticed significant issues with speeding, he is glad to see the state cracking down on reckless driving.

“I have never seen people blow red lights like they do here,” he said.

He said he prefers to drive on backroads, instead of using major roadways like US-17, to avoid collisions.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these safety reminders to drivers:

  • The necessary stopping distance quadruples every time a driver doubles their speed. 
  • Allow more stopping time for bigger vehicles, or when traveling downhill on wet or uneven pavement.  
  • Apply the brakes before entering a curve. 
  • Set a good example for young drivers by driving at the speed limit. 
  • If speeding drivers are following too closely, allow them to pass.  
  • Always wear a seat belt.