Police enforce road safety
Muncie, BSU police watch for speeding, seat belt violations
Daniel Human
Section: NEWS
Originally published: 2/8/07 at 2:17 AM EST
Last update: 2/8/07 at 2:16 AM EST

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Motorists better think twice before pushing the pedal to the metal or not snapping in a seat belt during the next two weeks.

The Ball State University and Muncie police departments are participating in Operation Pull Over, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration road safety campaign, Director of Public Safety Gene Burton said. The campaign began Sunday and will end Feb. 16.

The UPD increased the number of officers patrolling the streets, Burton said. The police will be paying special attention to speeding vehicles in certain areas around campus, he said.

Student Government Association representatives approached UPD to complain about speeding on McKinley and Riverside avenues, so the police will be watching those roads more closely, Burton said.

Senators ask their constituents what their top concerns are, and speeding on McKinley Avenue is usually on the list, Sen. Matt Lacy said.

"Obviously pedestrians are our main concern," he said. "That is the students' main mode of transportation, walking to class. We wanted to make sure students' safety and best interests were in mind when we met with [Burton]."

Burton told the representatives he would speak with police officers about increased enforcement and place more speed limit signs along McKinley Avenue, Lacy said.

"Timing is the main issue," Burton said. "Going 35 mph on McKinley at 3 a.m. is certainly different than going 35 mph at 10 in the morning when there's a lot of people on campus. With increased traffic it makes it quite different."

The Muncie Police Department will assign a patrol car to drive around Muncie looking for seat belt violations, Sgt. Brad Arey of the Muncie police said. This blitz is specifically focused on seat belts, he said.

The Muncie police have applied for an Operation Pull Over grant for the past 10 years, Arey said. There was a blitz in October focused on drunk driving and two more in May and July, he said.

The May blitz will focus on seat belts again, but instead of having an officer patrol Muncie, enforcement zones will be set where the officers will stand on the side of the road and check passing vehicles, Arey said. Signs will be placed in front of the enforcement zones to alert passing vehicles, he said.

"It does show through studies that [the campaign] has increased seat belt usage," Arey said. "Unfortunately, even with the big, orange signs, some people still don't use seat belts, so we have to pull them over."

The Muncie Police Department will also send more officers out to patrol the streets for Mardi Gras on Feb. 20 to watch for drunk drivers, Arey said.

"I'm not against the drinking part if you're of age," he said. "If you want to go to Mardi Gras or a bar, go out and have a good time. Just don't get in a vehicle and drive."

The extra patrolling officers on Mardi Gras are not part of Operation Pull Over, but the funding comes from a DR task force grant that was given to the Delaware County Sheriff's Office and Muncie, Yorktown and Daleville police departments, Arey said. The money is appropriated for enforcing DUI laws, he said.