Going faster can lead to disaster: New program hopes to curb traffic violations


Kimber Kinney

In an effort to curb speeders, a new program, Operation Southern Slow Down, has been implemented in Florida and other southern states.

Kimber Kinney, Staff Writer/Illustrator

Operation Southern Slow Down

Students coming onto campus at 7:00 a.m. will agree that Forest Hill Blvd. can double for either a parking lot or a speedway as students scramble to get through the gates on time. Law enforcement  across five different states believe they have come up with a solution for those craving to place in the next NASCAR event.  

Operation Southern Slow Down is the newest law enforcement strategy that   involves state troopers cracking down on speeders in Florida and other southern states.  Last year, in 2021, there were over 3,000 fatal crashes according to Florida Highway Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) out of 163,000 crashes. That is higher than Georgia’s 1,700 fatal accidents.  

“We will be out there in force,” the Florida Highway Patrol said in a statement released in  July. “High visibility enforcement like this helps to slow folks down and calms traffic on the entire roadway.” 

By educating drivers and enforcing traffic laws, Florida state troopers  are helping to implement this program and ultimately stop speeders. The Highway Patrol will be pulling over drivers who speed or who are recklessly driving.  Some may drive away with a warning and a pamphlet on the dangers of speeding while others will get a hefty ticket.  For going over the speed limit, you can face a ticket from $100-$250 depending on how fast you were going.  

Rising Fatalities

Every year, thousands  of drivers are killed. Data from FLHSMV shows in 2020, over 340,000 car accidents happened in Florida and 3,332 lives were taken from those accidents.  That equates to  933 crashes a month.  

Car crash stats

These statistics are what led to this initiative.

Insurance Rates 

As most students know, even one speeding ticket can raise your insurance rates.  In Florida, car insurance rates are 56 percent more than the national average.  On average, Florida drivers pay at least $2,000-$6,000 a year in car insurance.  With 20 percent of Florida drivers being uninsured, the rates of the insured can double every six months due to surcharges from those who do not have insurance.  This endangers drivers who get in car accidents to get the care they need. Reckless drivers in Florida can risk their personal assets as well.  Insurance companies use this data to charge Floridians more money each time an ‘uninsured’ driver gets in a car accident.

Student Drivers Safety 

Central’s own Officer M. Thomas believes that this program will greatly reduce traffic fatalities and keep students safe.

“One of the principles I try to teach all students throughout the district is car safety,” Thomas explained. “Things like not texting while driving, obeying all traffic laws and signs, not being distracted while driving, and utilizing your Bluetooth system – they sound simple or mundane, but they are actually statistically proven tools to save your life.”

Senior and driver Kailee Scott expressed her concern over traffic safety as well.

“I think police should be more aware of accidents right outside of school because someone hit my car and they drove away with no repercussions,” Scott noted.

Dori Saves Lives

Part of Operation Southern Slowdown is to educate drivers, so to satisfy this part of their mission, organizers are working with “Dori Saves Lives,” a non-profit  founded in 2004 whose  mission is to teach students and future drivers on the importance of driver safety. The organization works with Florida organizations such as AAA, Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and several others. 

Dori Saves Lives started after Dori Slosberg, daughter of former Florida Representative Irving Slosberg,  lost her life along with four friends after a car crash. She did not have her seatbelt on and her twin sister was the only one that survived the tragic crash. 

“Personally, as a law enforcement officer, I like to remind students that it’s your life,” said Officer Thomas.  “ Texting while driving is one of the number one reasons why students in Florida don’t make it home or to school safely.  If the signage says 40 mph, it’s 40 mph.”

Officials in Georgia echoed Thomas’ statement. 

“Slowdown,” a spokesperson for the Georgia State Troopers commented. “It’s very simple. Get to that destination safely and alive.”