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story.lead_photo.caption A file photo of a Hot Springs Police Department patrol unit. - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

The Hot Springs Police Department will join law enforcement agencies from across Arkansas for a weeklong concerted speed enforcement plan beginning Monday and ending Sunday, July 19, the department said in a release.

The operation is being publicized across the state with the message: "Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine."

Throughout July, Arkansas State Police will contribute patrol resources in a Regional Speed Enforcement Plan that targets speeding violators on particular selected days of the week.

"Speeding is synonymous with tragedy and death on our roadways," Col. Bill Bryant, director of the Arkansas State Police and the governor's highway safety representative, said in the release. "It's a proven fact, higher speeds significantly reduce a driver's reaction time and ability to steer safely around other vehicles, roadway hazards, and unexpected highway exits or detours in highway construction zones."

Drivers who ignore the speed limit put themselves, their passengers, and others at "tremendous risk," the release said. In 2018, speeding was a contributing factor in 26% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. and 9,378 people lost their lives in the crashes, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In Arkansas, 131 deaths were attributed to speed-related crashes during 2018.

Already this year, Arkansas traffic fatalities are on the rise. According to preliminary NHTSA data, fatalities in speeding-related crashes are increasing at "an alarming rate." Through the end of June, 84 people have died in speed-related crashes, compared to 63 at the same time last year which equates to a 33% increase, the release said.

"Driving above the posted speed limit or speeding during inclement weather conditions dramatically increases the probability that a motorist will be involved in a crash," Bryant said. "State troopers want to be sure the highways are safe and stopping speeding drivers is a top priority."

The goal of these enforcement efforts is to save lives and make drivers aware that no excuses for speeding are acceptable. When it comes to speeding, "Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine," the release states.

More information on the mobilization can be found at http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas highway safety office at 501-618-8136.

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