SPD officers target aggressive drivers


By Donna Swicegood | Statesville R&L
Published: November 28, 2009
While some of their colleagues will be on the lookout for thieves, a group of Statesville police officers will be looking for problems on the roads.
Sgt. Jeremy Barnes said the police department's traffic unit has initiated a program called Drive Nice or Pay the Price from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day.
Barnes said the effort is in conjunction with the shopper safety program in which officers patrol the prime shopping areas on foot to deter crime.
SPD Chief Tom Anderson said Drive Nice or Pay the Price will focus on the high-traffic areas, such as the Turnersburg Road-Glenway Drive area and around East Broad Street.
Barnes said the plan is to look for traffic violations including speeding, following too close and other aggressive-driving issues.
One thing officers will pay particular attention to is the blocking of intersections.
"It is an actual statute not to block these intersections,' Barnes said. "It slows down the flow of traffic."
Barnes said the police department's traffic unit now consists of four officers, thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Governor's Highway Safety Program.
Previously, two officers were assigned to the traffic unit, which concentrates on problem-traffic areas, investigating wrecks with serious injuries and primary enforcement of traffic laws.
The grant afforded the SPD the opportunity to add two more officers. All of their equipment is furnished through the grant as well.
Barnes said patience is going to be needed during the next few weeks as more people will be on the roads.
"Please try to be courteous," he said.
The N.C. Highway Patrol will also be targeting problem drivers on the interstates and four-lane highways through this weekend.
Operation Slow Down began Nov. 16 and ends Sunday.
NCSHP Capt. Everett Clendenin said 25 people died and another 1,870 were injured across North Carolina during Thanksgiving weekend last year.
Speeders and aggressive drivers will be the focus of the program.
Those two factors are cited as the leading case of traffic deaths in the state, Clendenin said.