The Hands Across the Border traffic enforcement campaign kicks off every year leading up to Labor Day weekend, 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.
State and local law enforcement in all five states work simultaneously to take drunk and drugged drivers off the roads, as well as issue citations for distracted driving, speeding, being unbuckled (including car seats) and other traffic violations in an effort to make roads even safer for the holiday 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 1,504 traffic fatalities in 2018. That’s only a slight decrease from 1,540 deaths in 2017. Alcohol-related fatalities increased slightly from 356 in 2017 to 375 in 2018, while speed-related fatalities also increased slightly from 248 to 267 for the same time frame.
“We partner 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.”