Davis using $150,000 grant to patrol for speeders
Extra funding will pay for additional shifts of officers on roadways
By Lana Groves
Published: Friday, July 3, 2009 1:18 a.m. MDT
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BOUNTIFUL — Driving 5 mph over the speed limit in Davis County could be more hazardous in the future.
Davis County law enforcement agencies are cracking down on high speeds in construction, residential, school and other zones thanks to a $150,000 federal grant. The extra funding to conduct speed overtime enforcement will procure an additional 40-45 shifts of officers patrolling all major roadways, city streets and school zones.
"The biggest change will come from the visible presence," said Utah Highway Patrol Col. Daniel Fuhr. "When you personally go down the road and see a police officer, your immediate reaction is to slow down and check the speedometer."
Representatives from most of the eight agencies encouraging speed limit compliance kicked off the campaign Tuesday. UHP officials believe the additional officers in five-hour shifts will promote slower speeds, especially around construction zones where an extra 10 mph over the speed limit can mean the difference between a fatal and injury causing collision.
"Even half a second can make all the difference in the world," said Cory Pope, Utah Department of Transportation northern Utah director. "Going 55 versus 65 miles per hour in a 10-mile construction zone gives you an extra 100 seconds. Imagine what you can do with just a little under two minutes."
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Tooele and Salt Lake County received similar grants from the Utah Department of Public Safety's Highway Safety Office for various safety campaigns, from which UHP Sgt. Ted Tingey said Tooele saw a 10 percent reduction in speeding tickets.
But unlike Tooele, Davis County is "sandwiched" between Ogden and Salt Lake City, making it traffic-laden with commuters bustling back-and-forth.
"And with Legacy Parkway, I-15, I-89 and Redwood Road, there are large stretches of area where people pick up speed," Tingey said. "There have been a lot of crashes recently in these areas."
Construction projects that congest traffic with fewer and slower lanes will increase with continued areas blocked off on I-15, including the I-215 to 600 North project.
UHP officials report that speeding violations and speeding-related incidents haven't increased on major roadways, but some cities have reported an increase in violations over the past couple of years.
Bountiful police showed an increase from 2,047 in 2008 to nearly 3,000 hazardous citations issued in 2009, which includes speeding, failure to yield or stop at signs and more. Clearfield police reported an increase from 872 to 1,084 citations issued from 2008-09.
Tingey said a fatal accident on I-15 near a construction zone in North Salt Lake last month didn't spur the campaign but shows the need for lower driving speeds. He said officers will be more strict about pulling over drivers speeding more than 5 mph over the speed limit, especially in construction zones where the fines are doubled.
Officials will also enforce driving speeds through educational seminars and talking to high school and junior high students about speeding, trooper Cameron Roden said.
"It's the kind of accidents that can be prevented," Tingey said. "We want motorists to realize this by the number of tickets written."
Officials said they would request additional funds to continue the campaign if it proves successful.