So far this year, there have been 23 traffic fatalities in Richmond
County. This time last year, there were 37 deaths on the roads.
"You know, that's over a 40% decrease, so we are proud of that. But it's just still not enough. You know, when you're the person who has to go explain to a person why their loved one is dead, you really want that number to go to zero," Lt. Lewis Blanchard said.
Whether you like it or not, deputies say Operation Thunder is the reason that traffic fatalities have gone down. Blanchard says the crackdown has forced drivers to make better decisions.
"We have more companies that have stepped up during the holidays to offer free rides. We have bars that are now paying taxis to be there. We have bars that are hiring vehicles to take customers to and from," Blanchard said.
But he says there is still more work to do.
During Operation Thunder checkpoints, deputies made 370 DUI arrests. They wrote 356 citations for suspended licenses and 354 citations for seat belt violations. But deputies wrote the most citations for child seat violations with 569 total.
"It's been very disheartening, as far as the child safety seats, you know, most of the time if we issue a citation it's not that they didn't have the child safety seat in there correctly, it's that their two year old was on the floor board," Blanchard said.
Christina Owens was putting her daughter in her car seat when we told her that statistic.
"That shocks me. That really shocks me. I can't imagine not putting her in a car seat when I go anywhere," Owens said.
The Sheriff's Office held a child safety seat class over the weekend and will continue teaching the public whenever it's needed, however, Operation Thunder is done for a few years, and some people are on the fence about that.
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office will keep conducting roadblocks to crackdown on bad driving.
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