SPECIAL ENFORCMENT PROJECT -
Pa. police join efforts to combat aggressive driving
Saturday, March 24, 2007
PennDOT and state law enforcement officials are combatting aggressive driving.
A $2 million investment from PennDOT will be used for "Smooth Operator" enforcement efforts. Fifteen state police troops and 175 local police departments from across the Commonwealth will participate.
"This is all about changing behavior, educating and enforcement and also saving lives," said Joseph Szczur, district executive for PennDOT District 12, Friday at a press conference in Murrysville. "Aggressive driving is considered our nation's greatest threat to highway safety."
Police will target speeding, tailgating, running red lights or stop signs and making unsafe lane changes.
Aggressive driving played a role in 1,016 of 1,616 Pennsylvania fatalities in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available, according to PennDOT.
"This really hits home," Szczur said. "One life lost is one too many. "
Police will conduct five weeks of aggressive driving enforcement that will run March 25-31, July 1-7, Aug. 5-11 and Sept. 2-15.
"Poor driving habits behind the wheel endanger all of us," said Murrysville Police Chief Tom Seefeld. "Distractions, lack of awareness and focusing on things other than responsible driving can have tragic results. Through education and enforcement we can send a message to the motoring public that enough is enough and that it's time to slow down and be responsible."
PennDOT will pay for police training and overtime, and equipment such as wireless infrared speed detectors. State police can run radar or use aircraft to assist local police departments.
Target areas in Westmoreland County will be Route 30 from Adamsburg to Irwin, Route 22 from Delmont to the Allegheny County line, Route 51 from Rostraver Township to the Allegheny County line, Route 130 from Route 993 to Route 66, Route 30 from Route 711 to the Somerset County line and Route 66 from Washington Township to Route 380.
In Fayette County, efforts will focus on Route 40 from Business Route 40 to the Uniontown city line and Route 51 from the Uniontown city line to the Westmoreland County line.
"We have 96 square miles to cover and we have limited officers to work it," said Patrolman Bob Shapiro, of Ligonier Township. "For us to have this grant coming in and bring extra officers in just to do traffic, it's a real bonus. This really gives us an opportunity to go out and actually focus on traffic enforcement."
Last summer, PennDOT conducted a 12-county Smooth Operator pilot program, which resulted in more than 18,000 citations and arrests.
Paul Paterra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (724) 836-6220.