Speeding crackdown on Mississippi 603
By SARAH CURE - Sun Herald
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BAY ST. LOUIS — Excessive speeding on Mississippi 603 has prompted the Bay St. Louis Police Department to strictly enforce the 55-mph speed limit on this north-south corridor, which extends from Interstate 10 to Waveland and Bay St. Louis.
Bay St. Louis Police Chief Tom Burleson said patrol officers have been instructed to run radar and, as a result, a slew of speeding tickets has been issued, including 85 citations for November alone.
“We are trying to cut down on fatality accidents and get the speed of drivers down to 55 mph,” Burleson said. “Drivers have a better survival rate if they obey the speed limit compared to driving at 90 mph. But not everyone is driving 90 mph. “Many people are going 70 to 75 mph, but that is still 25 mph over the speed limit and we have to slow them down.”
Burleson compared the number of speeding citations issued in November, on Mississippi 603 with the number of speeding citations issued throughout the city. His research showed officers issued 84 speeding tickets throughout the city and 85 tickets were issued on Mississippi 603.
“If you compare last year to this year, I did not have the personnel to work the area,” Burleson said. “We have hired more people to fill the shifts and also have a grant from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety to help with extra control. So we now can afford to put someone out there. The officers are patrolling their areas of town, but when they are on 603 they will run radar and enforce the speed limit.
“We are pushing for zero tolerance,” Burleson added.
In the 1990s, the adage “Pray for me, I drive 603,” was coined because of the reputation the highway earned after being the site of many fatal accidents. But from July 2006 to December 2009, Burleson said, there have been only two fatal accidents on Mississippi 603, which claimed the lives of four people.
At one time, Mississippi 603 was the territory of Hancock County, but it is now under the jurisdiction of Bay St. Louis after the city’s annexation. Bay St. Louis patrols the highway From I-10 to Longfellow Drive. Waveland police patrol from Longfellow to the intersection of U.S. 90 in Waveland, and the speed limit drops to 45 mph.
According to the Bay St. Louis court department, typical fines for speeding range from $138 to $173.
Additionally last week, the Bay St. Louis Police Department announced it will be joining forces with national law enforcement and highway safety agencies to take part in the “Drunk Driving — Over the Limit, Under Arrest” crackdown on impaired driving. The campaign will last until Jan. 3.
“Driving impaired is illegal in every state, yet we continue to see far too many people suffer debilitating injuries and loss of their loved ones as a result of impaired driving,” Burleson said. “This careless disregard for human life must stop and to help ensure that happens, the Bay St. Louis police department is dedicated to arresting impaired drivers wherever and whenever we find them.
“So don’t take the chance and, remember, if you are over the limit, you are under arrest,” he said.