Law enforcement kicks off ‘Hands Across the Border’ highway campaign in Columbus

Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 1:01 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Throughout the Labor Day holiday period, more than 50 different agencies will be hitting local highways to take part in the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety initiative.

Agencies from Americus, Sylvester and Butler County are just some of the law enforcement teaming up to hit the streets of Columbus, looking for drivers under the influence or any other dangers on the road.

They all have the same goal, issuing citations and keeping drivers safe.

‘Hands Across the Border’ all started in Camden County, Georgia where two troopers got together to challenge each other to reduce fatalities and crashes on the highway during Labor Day weekend.

‘’Labor Day is typically our end of 100 days of summer, you know, we call it summer heat in Georgia. It’s typically the end of that, and we just had a good bit of crashes and fatalities on roadways just simply because more people traveling trying to get that last vacation in before it’s time to go back to school full time,” said Powell Harrelson, with the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 25% of people killed in crashes in Georgia during the 2021 Labor Day holiday weekend involved a drunk driver. 80% of those fatal DUI crashes involved a driver whose blood alcohol level was twice the state’s legal limit.

‘’Main goal is safety. We want to try and prevent DUI’s, seat belts anything we can do to kind of get everybody ready for Labor Day weekend, but our goal is to make sure that everybody’s safe, make sure they have license,” said command sergeant for the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, Larry Marshall, said.

Columbus Interim Police Chief Stoney Mathis said around this time of year is when they see more car wrecks.

‘’Start to crash season and people are coming home from the holiday weekend, and there’s crashes. And you know, Columbus has several fatality accidents a year, and what we’re doing is trying to prevent some of that and we got the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety down with 50 or 60 different agencies involved in this,” Mathis said. “And we’re just trying to slow people down make sure everybody’s wearing their seat belt and not talking on their phone.’'

This initiative will be happening all week.

Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman said residents can expect to see a heavier police presence along the highways, and he has some advice for you.

‘’I’m hoping that everybody can drive safe. I hope that everybody’s wearing their seat belt. I hope that they have their kids buckled properly in their seat belts, and so, we have Alabama State troopers that are that are also pulling up to,’' Countryman said.

According to NHTSA, more than 40% of the fatal traffic crashes during the 2021 Labor Day weekend in the United States involved a drunk driver. So, if you have any plans to hit the road be sure to do it sober and safely.