Hands Across the Border
The 28th annual Hands Across the Border traffic enforcement campaign kicks off Monday, August 26, 2019, when Georgia law enforcement will join fellow officers, troopers and deputies in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee to conduct joint road checks in their respective states over a 5-day period leading up to Labor Day weekend.
"We are fortunate to have neighbors who are as committed as we are in Georgia to saving lives on our roads and that they are always ready to work with us during the year on other projects that promote save driving," Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Allen Poole said. "Hands Across the Border sends a message to every driver in the southeast to slow down, buckle up, and drive sober and alert before the Labor Day holiday travel period."
Hands Across the Border started in 1991 as a friendly wager between the Georgia State Patrol and Florida Highway Patrol to see which agency could limit the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths in their state during the Labor Day travel period. Within ten years, the effort grew to all states bordering Georgia holding joint road checks at their state lines on the week before Labor Day with the goal of taking impaired drivers off the roads prior to the final summer holiday travel period of the year.
"Our ultimate goal at any time of year is to get dangerous drivers off the roads and help reduce traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities," GOHS Law Enforcement Services Director Roger Hayes said. "But with a major travel weekend coming up and so many warm weather vacation destinations across the southeast, we want everyone to make sure they drive sober, put down their phones, slow down and that everyone in their vehicle is properly buckled up."
One of the reasons for campaigns like Hands Across the Border is because traffic fatalities across the southeast are still far too high. Georgia, for example, experienced 1,540 traffic fatalities in 2017 and preliminary numbers from the Georgia Department of Transportation currently show 1,514 traffic fatalities for Georgia in 2018. That's only a slight decrease from 1,556 deaths in 2016. Alcohol-related fatalities are similarly down to 366 from 384 and speed-related fatalities to 248 from 266 for the same time frame. While all three categories represent a decrease, just one traffic fatality is still too many.
"We will be partnering with our state line neighbors in communities along the South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee boarders for road checks, enforcement and awareness," Hayes said. "This isn't about raising revenue, but rather lowering fatalities."
Hands Across the Border will begin on Monday, August 26 with road checks near Savannah, followed by stops at the Florida state line near Kingsland and Valdosta, the Alabama state line in Columbus and the Tennessee state line near Ringgold.