VALDOSTA, GA --- Law enforcement officers who patrol Interstate 75 in Lowndes and Cook counties launched the fifth enforcement wave of the Georgia TACT Program on Monday, Feb. 23. The G-TACT program, or Georgia Targeting Aggressive Cars and Trucks, is a traffic safety campaign designed to increase driver awareness of the dangers they face with risky driving behaviors around commercial motor vehicles.
The start of the week-long enforcement campaign was announced at a morning news conference at the I-75 Northbound Inspection Station for the Georgia Department of Public Safety. The program combines educational outreach with traffic enforcement to reduce the number of crashes between commercial vehicles and much smaller passenger vehicles.
Darrell Ruban, Southern field administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, announced the enforcement wave. The week-long enforcement area includes I-75 north and southbound between Valdosta and mile marker 37 in Cook County.
Col. Hitchens said the area was selected for this G-TACT enforcement wave based on traffic crash data.
“Over a three-year period, there were 365 crashes in the two counties that involved a commercial motor vehicle and either other cars or objects," Hitchens said. "Those crashes resulted in 389 injuries and 20 fatalities."
Commercial motor vehicle crashes with passenger vehicles in Georgia account for an average of 15 percent of Georgia highway fatalities each year. In fatal crashes that involve at least one large truck and a passenger vehicle, almost 90 percent of the people killed are occupants of the smaller vehicle.
"And the majority of the commercial vehicle crashes are caused by a driving mistake made by the driver of the smaller passenger vehicle," Hitchens noted.
In addition to cautioning drivers to "leave more space" this week, law enforcement officers will be watching for drivers of both cars and trucks that are tailgating, changing lanes too quickly, crossing the gore or median, driving recklessly, speeding, driving in the emergency lane, failing to signal when changing lanes, operating a vehicle without an appropriate valid license, and trucks over six wheels traveling in the left lane.
"Keep a greater distance behind tractor trailers, not only so the driver can see you, but so you can stop in time should the truck driver ahead be forced to take emergency evasive action," Hitchens said. "When you tailgate a tractor trailer, you can’t see what’s in front of the truck and you are not prepared for sudden stops."
Hitchens said billboards, public service announcements, commercial radio spots, specially wrapped tractor trailers, and safety messages on the Department of Transportation’s overhead variable message signs are part of the public outreach for the G-TACT campaign.
"For motorists who travel Georgia interstates each day, a crash involving a tractor trailer can cause extensive travel delays, especially when the crash is fatal for a driver or passengers," Hitchens said. "We want to reduce travel delays by reducing the number of crashes between passenger cars and commercial vehicles."
Additionally, Motor Carrier Compliance officers will be conducting public information and education activities at the Georgia Welcome Center periodically this week.
The Georgia TACT program is funded with a grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to the Georgia Department of Public Safety. Additional enforcement waves are planned in the corridors later this year.