BCSO awarded safe driving grant
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September 12, 2008 Email to a friend Voice your opinion (L-R) Deputies George Konkel, J.J. Etheridge, Drew Moore and Sheriff Bob Milner with equipment purchased with a recent traffic safety grant.
The Bradford County Sheriff's Office and the citizens of the county have grown increasingly concerned about the aggressive driving patterns throughout the county. The careless operation of a motor vehicle, including moving offenses such as unlawful speed, are responsible for an unfortunate quantity of traffic crashes, injury crashes and traffic crash fatalities throughout the county. Bradford County experienced a 28 percent increase in traffic crashes from 2004 to 2005 compared to a 6 percent increase statewide. Clearly, aggressive/high-speed driving is a prevalent threat to safe travel.
The Bradford County Sheriff's Office was awarded a $120,000 aggressive driving grant by the Florida Department of Transportation. Deputy George Konkel and former Bradford County Sheriff's Deputy Drew Moore (now with Alachua County Sheriff's Office) applied for the funding in late 2007 on behalf of Sheriff Bob Milner. The Bradford County Sheriff's Office was approved for funding in March 2008. During this time, equipment for the Bradford County Sheriff's Office Aggressive Driving Program has been purchased, including two unmarked Dodge Charger enforcement vehicles with all necessary vehicle equipment, in-car video cameras, radar units, lap top computers and laser speed measurement devises. Also included was the purchase of a speed detection trailer and a large message board. The grant stipulated that the vehicles remain unmarked in order to covertly detect aggressive drivers.
The Bradford County Aggressive Driving Program vehicles were placed into operation on May 15. Since that date the vehicles have been in service on a part-time basis because funding did not include salaries for personnel. The vehicles have been used as a supplemental tool for education and enforcement, primarily by select part-time deputy sheriffs to eliminate the need for costly overtime expenses. The primary part-time deputies assigned to the new program are Konkel, who is the program director, and Deputy J.J. Etheridge. Both have extensive traffic enforcement experience and were former full-time deputies with the Bradford County Sheriff's Office.
According to preliminary information compiled to date, the program has shown positive results.
During the third quarter of the funding year from April 1 to June 30, the following statistical data has been collected:
-28 percent decrease in all reported traffic crashes compared to the same period in 2007.
-26 percent decrease in injury-related crashes.
-5 percent decrease in reported reckless driver calls for service.
-37 percent increase in traffic stops.
The Bradford County Sheriff's Office believes that the Aggressive Driving Enforcement Program will be an effective method to reduce the number of traffic crashes throughout the county. This includes the reducing the number of traffic crash fatalities as well as enforcing red light running in the city of Starke. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is through initiatives such as aggressive driving programs that traffic-related injuries and deaths are reduced.