LAKE PARK, GA (WALB) - Florida Highway Patrol officers crossed the state line Wednesday night to keep it safe from deadly crashes.
Traffic officers from agencies across South Georgia met with them to swap strategies on how to keep people alive on the road.
The initiative was started earlier than normal this year.
Officers said they wanted to get a head start on the dangerous summer travel season.
More than a quarter of a century ago, competitive spirit on the Georgia-Florida border birthed a program that would aim to save lives for decades.
"Friendly wager between the Georgia State Patrol commissioner and the Florida Highway Patrol commissioner as to see who could reduce traffic deaths," said Cpt. Kevin Rexroat with GSP.
Since then, the Hands Across the Border Initiative has evolved.
DUI, seatbelt usage, and speed are still issues officers are trying to put a stop to.
But distracted driving has become even more dangerous.
"This one little item can divert their attention in such a short time frame, a lot of things can go wrong very quickly," explained Rexroat.
That can cause universal heartbreak regardless of where you live.
"It's a lot of deaths. It's a lot of broken families and a lot of broken lives," said Lt. Pat Rickriordan with Florida Highway Patrol.
The state of Georgia has already seen almost 600 traffic deaths this year and the state of Florida recorded around 3,100 traffic fatalities last year.
"Borders are just that, they are transposable lines," Rexroat explained. "The citizens in Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia will cross these borders on a daily basis."
And that's one reason officers said they're one big family, that need to look out for each other and ensure safety for everyone on the road.
The Hands Across the Border Initiative is stopping to meet with agencies on Georgia's side to swap techniques and conduct roadblocks.
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