“You will see a lot more blue lights in Pell City,” Police Chief Greg Turley said. “Until July 9, all personnel will make traffic safety enforcement a priority during their tour of duty.”
Turley said the traffic safety directive is in response to five fatalities and numerous accidents in the area during the past few weeks.
“We are trying to make as many contacts as possible on traffic violations to educate drivers,” he said.
Turley said the goal is to change driver behavior for the better.
“It seems to me that most people believe you can go 80 miles per hour on the interstate before you get pulled over, and there is a buffer zone for speeding and violations without the possibility of enforcement,” he said. “With so many accidents and fatalities recently, we are trying to seize the moment and educate drivers that even the smallest violation can lead to serious accidents like we have seen here lately.”
Turley said reducing accidents is a three-prong approach: engineering, education and enforcement.
“Right now, we are looking at education and enforcement,” he said. “It is paramount that public safety officials, such as our officers, take this opportunity to ensure safety, especially during the upcoming July 4 holiday. We don’t want to have any serious accidents, which is why the increased traffic contacts will continue through July 9.”
Turley said with the recent spike in fatalities and accidents, he feels it is the right time to try and change driver behavior in the community.
“We are out there for a reason,” he said. “We don’t want to escort another funeral.”
Turley said every sworn officer in every division was issued a directive to make traffic safety a priority during this time period.
“This is not a ticket-writing campaign,” he said. “It is not mandatory that officers write citations — they may give warnings at the officer’s discretion.”
Turley said there are non-hazards and hazards traffic violations.
“The non-hazards are things like equipment violations, expired tags, those types of violations,” he said. “Our officers will focus more on the hazards: speeding, running red lights, not signaling change of lanes, weaving, texting, inattentiveness — all the things that can lead to a serious accident.”
Turley said the average person texting while driving looks away from the road for 4.6 seconds.
“Based on how fast you are going, you can cover a lot of ground in that time,” he said.
Turley said the officers will also conduct periodic roadblocks in various locations.
“At these safety checkpoints, officers will look for DUIs, seatbelt usage, people driving with suspended or revoked licenses, equipment violations and similar violations,” he said.
Turley said he wants the officers to make positive encounters for education purposes to make positive changes in driver behavior.
“This is all in the hopes of not having to work another fatality accident in our area,” he said.
Contact Elsie Hodnett at email@example.com.