This past weekend, Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman took to Facebook with a post about the dangerous number of speeders on Ga. 400 and other roads around Forsyth, saying that “we are better than this.”
In the post, which got more than 2,500 reactions, 1,000 shares and 800 comments in less than three days, Freeman stated that in past weeks the sheriff’s office has issued numerous citations for vehicles going 90 and 100 mph in construction zones on Ga. 400.
“All I was trying to do is put information out that we are better than this. I need everybody to take a deep breath. I know we are all frustrated by construction, I know we are all frustrated with the traffic woes that we have in Forsyth County … but that can’t be any excuse for reckless driving or aggressive driving,” Freeman said in an interview with FCN.
“Maybe its frustration. Maybe it’s just people don’t think there’s a consequence to driving recklessly,” he said.
Freeman added that even though it may seem like construction on Ga. 400 is slowing down it will likely be around for the foreseeable future.
“From what GOT told us we are looking at another year of construction on Ga. 400 as they replace existing damaged concrete,” he said.
According to the post, since March 17, three drivers have been cited by deputies for driving 100, 103, and 111 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour construction zone.
“There is no excuse for [driving] 90 to 100 miles an hour. You are endangering people’s lives and you can make any excuse you want, but we aren’t going to take it,” he said.
Freeman said that these drivers are likely underestimating the danger they are placing themselves and others in.
“Almost every year in the state of Georgia and across the southeast we see again and again construction workers … lose their life. We already have speed related fatalities on 400 since 2017... we have had a deputy hit by not only a drunk driver but a super speeder who was drunk, and that deputy is still fighting to recover,” he said.
Due to the dangerous circumstances of highway construction areas, Freeman said that they have to give out tickets and reinforce safe driving standards whenever they can, but that they aren’t out there to be the bad guy and ruin someone’s day for going 5 to 10 miles over the speed limit.
“We don’t write tickets for people running 11 miles an hour over on 400. We don’t do that,” he said.
He said in most cases by law his deputies can’t even give drivers a ticket unless they are traveling 11 mph or more over the speed limit.
According to Freeman, beyond increased patrols for speeders on Ga. 400, the sheriff’s office will be introducing several other measures to slow speeders down and help keep traffic flowing when accidents occur.
He said that people may begin to see an increasing number of electronic signs reminding drivers to slow down and drive safely.
“We are looking for cooperation and for people to follow the law. We aren’t looking to go have to take great enforcement effort. So if we can get people to slow down by a Facebook message, by signage board and by being out there then we’ve won,” he said.
Starting in the next year, Freeman said that the sheriff’s office will introduce a “HERO” traffic response vehicle, responsible for being out in the community at rush hour on weekdays for the sole purpose of removing minor accidents that block the roadway and get the roadway back open.
“That will be a fulltime unit going out later this year to be open by the time schools start again next year ... and that’s just another thing we are doing to try and help with traffic, to try and help with the flow, to try and keep cars going,” he said.
Freeman said that initiatives like the new traffic unit, signs in the community, and even his Facebook post are part of an effort to reach people, engage with them, and help them understand the danger of speeding.
“This is an ask from me for our Forsyth county residents to know that we are trying to keep them safe. I need their help. I need them to take a deep breath. I need them to slow down just a little bit, even when they are frustrated, even when they are running late to realize that it’s better to be late than it is to risk somebody’s life or their own lives,” he said.