"Operation Rolling Thunder" Is Making Travel Safer
Law enforcement officers from the Savannah-Chatham police department have started roving patrols to increase safety on local roads. Authorities say that the heightened enforcement program dubbed "Operation Rolling Thunder" is a "crackdown" on unsafe and illegal driving in the Savannah area. The aim of the project is to reduce fatal crashes and injuries on the roads. So far the program is working.
The Savannah Morning News is reporting that police have made over 100 arrests during Operation Rolling Thunder to this point. The plan has been operational since the beginning of May and has yielded tremendous results. Police do not engage in saturation patrols nightly. Rather, they increase enforcement operations over certain stretches of time. The last Rolling Thunder patrol lasted three days, with good results. Since the beginning of May, 97 impaired drivers were arrested, and police arrested nine fugitives.
According to police:
• 56 people were arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
• Police arrested 24 for a drug crime,
• Eight were arrested for felony offenses,
• Two fugitives from justice were arrested, and
• Police made 33 other arrests for unspecified reasons.
Rolling Thunder is a program initiated by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. The program will run through the summer and emphasize reducing fatalities and serious injuries. The law enforcement agencies involved are part of a task force comprised of local law enforcement and troopers from the Georgia State Patrol.
Officers vary their approach to enforcement and use a variety of methods to encounter motorists lawfully. For example, the task force uses roadblocks to encounter motorists. Police also conducted roving patrols designed to identify and stop dangerous behavior. Law enforcement officers from Rolling Thunder focused on identifying and stopping speeders and distracted drivers. The police issued 1,000 citations and 400 warnings in addition to all of the arrests they have made. Officers issued 297 citations for seatbelt violations and 269 speeding citations during the latest enforcement window.
The number of motorists violating the law is astounding. Police gave out 900 tickets and another 400 warnings during the first enforcement window of Operation Rolling Thunder. The statement issued by the Chief of Police for Savannah-Chatham indicates that he hopes the good folks in his jurisdiction will voluntarily follow Georgia's motor vehicle laws once news of the success of Operation Rolling Thunder spreads.
Law enforcement focused on the Chatham County area because of the high motor vehicle crash fatality rate in the county. There were 62 motor vehicle fatalities two years ago in Chatham County. Last year, that number decreased to 59. This year the county has experienced ten deadly motor vehicle crashes. Unfortunately, crashes involving a drunken driver increased the last two years in the county despite the overall number decreasing. The Governor's Office of Highway Safety dedicated a grant earlier this spring to help combat the increase in drunk driving fatalities. Law enforcement established a specialized task force designed to combat drunk driving. That task force complements the efforts made by Operation Rolling Thunder.
Operation Rolling Thunder has been in existence since 2007. Rolling Thunder first operated in Savanah and did so quite successfully for a few years. Crime rate dropped in every aspect with the exception of domestic violence. Rolling Thunder made its way to other locals in the state in which motor vehicle fatalities increased dramatically. Law enforcement brought Rolling Thunder back to the Savannah area because of the recent spike in fatal car crashes.
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