Indiana State Police upping enforcement in dangerous areas
If you took the bypass Friday, you probably noticed a swarm of Indiana State troopers setting up a speed limit enforcement zone.
But police say this has less to do with writing tickets and more to do with saving lives as part of a larger project.
Indiana State Police say Friday's operation was part of the state-wide "crash reduction effort."
It's an initiative that was launched just last year; police say it's had phenomenal results.
They say the tragedies on the road earlier this week are unfortunately perfect examples of what they aim to prevent.
Friday's operation was likely nothing new to many drivers. One officer shot radar off an overpass, while others waited to pull people over just around the bend on the bypass. Every few minutes, a car would come by going 74, 77, 81 miles per hour in the 65 mph zone.
“Some people are going to be unhappy because you pulled them over no matter what… But you know, I've been doing this for 15 years, and the majority of the people understand what we're trying to do out here. It's nothing personal, it's all about safety,” said Sgt. Jim Strong.
Police say the concentrated effort to ramp up operations like these is making a difference.
Last year there were 629 fatalities on the road in Indiana, which ISP Sgt. Trent Smith is actually the lowest number since record keeping began in 1925
That's down from 815 deaths in 2008.
Smith says the St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall and Kosciusko county area had only 54 crash related fatalities in 2009, down from 68 in 2008.
“This is just one layer of a multi-layer approach,” Smith said.
Police say there will be a number of other operations; targeting things like failure to yield, which is to blame for the fatal accident at State Road 2 and Quince just this week.
“You had a driver that for whatever reason, pulled out in front of the path of another driver. So that's something we're trying to target,” Smith said.
State police will also be targeting known dangerous intersections to watch for people running lights or stop signs.
“They'll stand there and watch and with a radio, then call down the street to somebody the description of the vehicle the activity and an officer might stop them. Not much different than what we're doing today,” Smith said.
So police want drivers to know they will be watching, but for an important reason.
“Every fatal crash we reduce, we're saving someone's life,” Strong said.
Another major part of this effort will be DUI checkpoints, which will be starting soon.
Drunk driving is responsible for 30% of fatal accidents in Indiana. Some of the other major causes they're targeting are things like following too close, unsafe lane movements and distracted driving.