Hands Across the Border

The 27th annual Hands Across the Border traffic enforcement campaign was held the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend. Georgia law enforcement and their fellow officers, troopers and deputies from Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee conducted joint road checks in their respective states. MADD Georgia staff and volunteers attended events on the Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida borders.

Director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Harris Blackwood, addresses the crowd at a press event on the border with South Carolina.

During Hands Across the Border, state and local law enforcement agencies in each state work simultaneously to stop drunk and drugged drivers and issued citations for distracted driving, speeding, unbuckled seat belts (including car seats), and other traffic violations. Activities included press events, meetings of law enforcement agencies, and road checks designed to keep dangerous drivers off of the roads and reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.

In what began as a friendly wager in 1991 between the Georgia State Patrol and Florida Highway Patrol to see which agency could limit the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in their state during the Labor Day travel period, Hands Across the Border has grown to include 4 states bordering Georgia. Last year, this targeted effort moved to the start of summer to expand safety efforts and messaging.

The Georgia State Patrol and Florida Highway Patrol shake hands to symbolically demonstrate their combined efforts to get dangerous drivers off the roads.

Hands Across the Border now begins simultaneously with Georgia’s 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. (highway enforcement of aggressive traffic). The summer initiative emphasizes and enforce Georgia’s traffic laws during the time period when many motorists are hitting the road for travel and summer vacations across Georgia or traveling through the state.

Campaigns like Hands Across the Border and 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T. are crucial because traffic fatalities across the southeast are staggering. According to the 2016 Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes Overview released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving deaths, speeding-related deaths, and unbelted deaths increased from 2015-2016. In 2017, there were 1,549 traffic deaths in Georgia (GOHS 2018).

The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) plays a leading role in traffic safety initiatives like Hands Across the Border, Click It or Ticket, and law enforcement recognition events across the state. Georgia GOHS works closely with Mothers Against Drunk Driving – Georgia, as one of MADD’s granting agencies. GOHS provides much needed funding to reduce the occurrence of drunk and drugged driving throughout the state and also funds DUI prevention training for law enforcement, military, educational and community groups.

MADD Georgia looks forward to partnering with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and our other law enforcement partners in continued initiatives to keep our roadways and communities safe!