Albany-- Traffic Crashes, injuries, and deaths have all increased on Albany's roads . The Albany H.E.A.T. officers have been on the streets for over one year, and say more needs to be done to get drivers to slow down.
Traffic officers were shocked by the weekend carnage on Georgia roads, starting out the summer driving season. Patrolman Aaron Simpson said, "This was one of the worst holiday weekends that I've heard of-- 35 fatalities, almost 2,800 crashes."
Albany's H.E.A.T. officers were glad there were no serious wrecks in Albany over the long holiday weekend, but say they have to do more to keep driver's on the right track.
Herndon said, "We're going to try to make them aware about drinking and driving, and let them know they need to wear their seat belts."
H.E.A.T. has been on Albany's streets since March, 2004, but this year has seen no improvement. So far in the first four months of this year, the number of crashes, injuries, and deaths are all up compared to last year.
So the H.E.A.T. officers say they have to continue to crack down on traffic violators. Albany's H.E.A.T. unit is one of 11 in the state, and the most active, handing out the most tickets per officer in Georgia, 495 tickets in April alone.
Simpson said, "Driving under the influence is not something to play with, and we are not going to play with it."
With school out, the H.E.A.T. patrol wants to make sure young people are safe drivers. Herndon said, "We're going to try to make them aware about drinking and driving, and let them know they need to wear their seat belts."
It's also vacation time, and more drivers will be on the roads this summer. These officers want to make sure those trips don't turn into tragedy.
Simpson said, "We don't want to go have to knock on anybody's door and tell them they have lost a family member as a result of a serious crash, as they were going to visit out of town or on vacation."
So the H.E.A.T. officers will stay busy this summer handing out tickets on Albany's streets, to make them safer.
The H.E.A.T. officers are paid for through a grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.