ATLANTA -- Georgia law enforcement officers are joining officers in neighboring states in pulling over drivers who are driving above the legal speed limit from Monday, July 16 through Sunday, July 22 as part of their second annual Operation Southern Shield.

“Our troopers are dedicated to participating in collaborative enforcement efforts like Operation Southern Shield, that encourages motorists to drive safely and slow down,” said Colonel Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “Our main focus this week is reducing crashes and providing a safer transportation experience for motorists traveling in our state.”

According to the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, speeding killed more than 10,000 people in 2016 across the nation and was a factor in 27 percent of fatal wrecks nationwide.

Preliminary numbers from the Georgia Department of Transportation said the number of traffic deaths during last year's Operation Southern Shield was 35 percent lower than during the other three weeks of July.

In Georgia, there were 25 traffic deaths reported during Operation Southern Shield from July 17-23 last year as compared to 34 on July 3-9, 41 on July 10-16 and 39 from July 24-30. Georgia State Patrol Troopers and local law enforcement officials combined to issue more than 12,400 citations for speeding over the seven-day period last year. They also took some 552 suspected DUI drivers to jail and made 472 felony arrests.

"If you are pulled over next week, don't ask for a warning because this is it," Harris Blackwood, Director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety said. "Many of the citations issued last year were for speeds that were well over the legal posted limit. The speed limit on every road in this state is set to protect everyone who is traveling on them."

As part of Operation Southern Shield, Georgia will once again join their law enforcement partners in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina for joint operations during the week.