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  1. #1
    Yoda of Radar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005

    Default AL - Speed Crack Down - 8/13 - 8/17

    It's not going to be popular with lead-footed drivers, but the planned crackdown on speeders by the Alabama Department of Public Safety is a good thing nonetheless. Alabama's highway death toll last year was the highest in more than three decades despite declines in traffic deaths in the United States as a whole.

    DPS officials announced on Thursday that about 200 additional law enforcement officers will be on the state's highways Aug. 13-17. The effort will be called "Take Back Our Highways."

    "Any way you look at it, too many people are dying on Alabama roadways," said Public Safety Director Chris Murphy in announcing the new program, according to The Associated Press.

    The U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week that traffic deaths in the United States in 2006 declined 2 percent from the previous year, placing them at their lowest level in five years.

    But Murphy said highway deaths in Alabama rose by 5 percent in 2006. The 1,208 people who died on the state's highways last year was the most since 1973.

    We applaud DPS for the crackdown. It is a step in the right direction. However, what is truly needed is not a high-profile crackdown that lasts a few days or even a few weeks, but a lot more troopers on the state's highways day in and day out from now on.

    For instance, the state conducted a similar crackdown in 2004. Despite that effort, highways deaths that year rose 15 percent over the previous year.

    Murphy said the crackdown will not occur just one time, but that the agency plans similar efforts in the future to try to discourage speeders from returning to their old habits.

    The DPS director advised speeding motorists who pass an officer writing a ticket for another speeder not to assume they are in the clear. He said in some cases, multiple officers will be spaced to catch speeders who make that assumption.

    Gov. Bob Riley has been pushing with some success to get additional money to hire more state troopers. The state currently has about 360 troopers in the Highway Patrol Division, which is up about 40 troopers from two years ago. But the agency has indicated in the past that it needs about 600 troopers to adequately patrol highways 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Until the state can get the number of troopers up dramatically, periodic crackdowns such as the one planned for August are worth trying. But in the long run, if the state wants to bring its highway death toll down the trooper force must be increased year round.
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  2. #2
    Yoda of Radar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005


    Blue-light special for speeders this week
    200 extra troopers to patrol highways; beware 'line detail'
    Sunday, August 12, 2007
    Times Staff Writer,

    Think you can drive 10 miles over the speed limit and get away with it?

    Better not try it Monday.

    About 200 additional state troopers will patrol Alabama roads Monday through Friday as part of a blitz to combat the state's rising traffic fatality rate and bust the myths associated with speeding, said Col. Christopher Murphy, director of the state Department of Public Safety.

    "There's this unwritten notion that troopers will only get drivers going 10 or more miles over speed limit," Murphy said. "You need to assume that's not accurate anymore. The benchmark needs to be the speed limit, not five or 10 miles over."

    Troopers from all divisions and ranks will patrol the roads, issuing citations for minor to serious traffic violations, Murphy said.

    The 200 extra troopers, who normally work as investigators, arresting officers and administrators, are as qualified to write citations as troopers who patrol, said trooper spokesman Curtis Summerville.

    All troopers, regardless of their jobs, are recertified every year.

    "Some of them might not be radar-certified, but they can use LIDAR or let another trooper run radar while they write tickets," Summerville said.

    Murphy said he developed the idea of a blitz, dubbed the "Take Back Our Highways" campaign, in response to the state's rising traffic deaths.

    Alabama's fatality rate rose 5 percent from 2005 to 2006, while the national rate declined 2 percent in the same period. According to statistics from state troopers, fatalities in 2006 topped more than 1,200, the highest number since 1973

    Pyramid scheme'

    E-mails about a "zero tolerance" week added fuel to the campaign, Murphy said.

    "It's like a bad pyramid scheme, and it's inaccurate, but it's getting people worried," he said.

    The e-mail warns drivers that troopers will ticket anyone going "even one mile" over the speed limit. "That's impractical," Murphy said, but it's up to the individual posts which methods they use.

    "We're not trying a cookie-cutter approach because that won't work," he said. "It's hard to do a one-size-fits-all approach."

    This week's effort focuses on the top five fatality-causing infractions: speeding, following too closely, failing to yield the right of way, driver inattention and driving under the influence.

    In Madison County, troopers will set up checkpoints for DUIs, expired licenses or insurance and equipment violations, Summerville said.

    Murphy said troopers will be running "line detail," a technique that involves stationing a series of troopers - maybe three to five - two miles apart down a stretch of road. That means that if you see a vehicle pulled over, don't be too sure that you're off the hook, Murphy said.

    In addition to radar, a similar technique called LIDAR will be used to catch speeders. LIDAR, which is typically set up in the median, uses a laser to capture information such as a vehicle's speed and tag number.

    The information is then sent to troopers, who will be lined up in groups of eight to 15 on highway exit ramps, Murphy said.

    We're using a number of techniques to get people's attention," he said. "We'll be out on all roads, too, because surprisingly, more fatalities have been in rural areas than metro."

    Local law enforcement agencies aren't directly involved in the campaign, but Huntsville police aren't letting the campaign alter their plans, police spokesman Wendell Johnson said.

    Police will continue to patrol high-traffic intersections and roads as part of the department's Crash Reduction Program, a local effort to reduce traffic fatalities.

    Immediate fix

    The Department of Public Safety plans to run this program at least two or three times each year, Murphy said.

    Although the campaign's next run won't be announced, drivers soon will see a difference on the roads: Troopers are trading in their unmarked vehicles for the traditional cars emblazoned with the blue troopers logo on the side.

    State troopers recently received a shipment of 100 marked cars, and many of them will be needed during the Take Back Our Highways campaign.

    It's all about presence, Murphy said. And presence makes drivers think twice.

    "We're trying to get that deterrent effect," he said. "We're moving toward a long-term fix through more troopers, but this (campaign) is an immediate fix."

    Murphy said he hopes to see more troopers in the next few years when the $24.5 million training academy, located at Wallace State Community College in Selma, is completed. Scheduled to open in 2010, the academy will have room for 150 students.
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