Police putting the brakes on unsafe driving

By Corey Allen-Young, CBS 11 News Reporter
Updated: 04/15/2009 04:49:01 PM AKDT

It's a problem that's gotten worse in the past two years and it's becoming a priority for Anchorage police. Twenty-four people died on area roads last year and that's why police are hitting the roads hard to try to stop unsafe drivers. A day in the life of A.P.D's traffic unit is all about keeping the roads safe from reckless drivers. After a two year drop, collisions and traffic deaths in Anchorage are going back up due to dangerous behaviors including speeding and road violations that most often results in death. "Its really serious a problem getting people to obey the speed limit, pay attention to their driving, make sure they are not doing anything that is dangerous," said Captain Bill Miller. "The speeding, the red lights, the stop signs, tailgating, to try to bring the fatalities and crash rate down, and so far we have been successful," said Officer Roger Nelson.
With fatalities that used to average in the high thirties each year, the traffic unit is trying to curb bad driving behavior before it becomes fatal. "We cover the whole thing, the highways, Minnesota, downtown, midtown for red lights," said Nelson. Often times a simple traffic stop can lead to more serious charges. "A lot of times officers will stumble across drugs, guns in vehicles along with the drugs, I am aware of a couple guys that stumbled across a homicide just by enforcing traffic laws," said Miller. "We are definitely making an impact, definitely changing driving behavior, and so that is a good thing and well worth the investment." An investment, Anchorage police hope everyone buys in to. "If everybody obeyed the speed limit, obeyed the red lights, obeyed the stop signs, obey all the traffic rules, I'd be out of a job," said Nelson. A.P.D's traffic unit is a 24 hour operation with on average 3 to 4 officers per shift focusing on looking for aggressive drivers.