Operation: Thunder targets unbuckled, texting drivers - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Operation: Thunder targets unbuckled, texting drivers

There was a noticeable increase in the police presence on South Georgia roads Thursday. (Source: WALB) There was a noticeable increase in the police presence on South Georgia roads Thursday. (Source: WALB)
They are conducting concentrated patrols and roadchecks throughout the Albany metro area to catch impaired, distracted, and unbuckled drivers. (Source: WALB) They are conducting concentrated patrols and roadchecks throughout the Albany metro area to catch impaired, distracted, and unbuckled drivers. (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

There was a noticeable increase in the police presence on South Georgia roads Thursday.

That's because the Albany Police Department, GA State Patrol, and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety's Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) teams are out in force.

They are conducting concentrated patrols and roadchecks throughout the Albany metro area to catch impaired, distracted, and unbuckled drivers. 

The operation started Thursday morning with daytime patrols, looking for drivers who are not wearing seat belts, texting, or driving impaired.

In an hour, the Thunder Task Force issued 30 tickets for no seat belts and 10 tickets for distracted driving.

It shows you the issues that law enforcement says they are seeing on Albany streets.

"I saw one this morning.  He was on his phone. He wasn't texting.  He was scrolling, trying to find his favorite song.  He's got his phone plugged in.  That's distracted driving" said Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director of Law Enforcement Roger Hayes. 

And the task force was giving tickets, because lots of drivers were doing things against the law driving down the road.

"Not only, just on the telephone but eating and driving.  Paying attention to anything else going on in the car, other than keeping your eyes on the road. Messing with the radio," said Governor's Office Of Highway Safety Senior Officer Liason Powell Harrelson.

The task force was also watching for no seat belts, or impaired drivers. So far this year there have been 1322 fatalities on Georgia roadways. That's a six percent increase over last year at this time.

"Georgia State Patrol  Master Trooper Darryl Benton said "We're not out here to issue tickets and to makes people's holidays unhappy.  We're here to save lives," said Governor's Office Of Highway Safety Senior Officer Liason Powell Harrelson.

They will do nighttime sobriety roadchecks Friday and Saturday.    

There have been more than 280 DUI arrests made during Thunder Task Force roadchecks and patrols in Albany over the last two years, including 81 DUI arrests earlier this year.  

State and local law enforcement officers also issued more than 200 traffic citations and made 26 drug arrests during the spring 'Thunder Task Force' operation in Albany.  

Almost half of the people who have died in traffic crashes this year in Georgia were not wearing seat belts.

Copyright 2016 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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