|Alabama State Trooper Sgt. Shannon Payne uses a laser gun to check for speeders Thursday on Alabama 21 near Jacksonville. The total ticket count for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was 13,778. Photo: Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star|
Today is the last push in the Alabama State Troopers’ week-long highway blitz.
The statewide “Take Back our Highways” initiative has pushed every trooper who has been through the academy out to swarm the roadways and snag traffic violators.
Statewide, the troopers report they wrote 4,439 tickets Monday, 5,741 Tuesday, and 3,598 Wednesday. The tally for Thursday wasn’t available late Thursday afternoon. These numbers include citations for DUI, speeding, following too close, improper lane change and seatbelt/child restraint.
The total ticket count for the three-day period was 13,778, compared with 2,550 during the same period last year.
“The blitz has been pretty good so far,” said Lt. John Henderson, Jacksonville/Gadsden post commander. “We can tell it’s making a difference.”
Across the state Monday through Wednesday, there were two fatal wrecks. The same period last year had eight statewide, troopers said.
Getting drivers to slow down and obey traffic laws saves lives, Henderson said.
“We’re not here just to write the tickets,” he said. “We’re not the boogey man coming after people. In fact, in a perfect world, we’d work ourselves out of a job.”
Henderson said in his travels to various planning meetings in the region during the blitz, he’s been watching drivers, looking for infractions. During most of his drives this week, drivers have been well-behaved, he said.
“I didn’t really encounter anything worth crossing the median for,” he said. “We have certainly cited a number of people, but it really seems like the public is responding.”
This week, the Jacksonville/Gadsden post set up three LIDAR — laser speed measurement — details and a pair of driver’s license and equipment check points in the coverage area.
The official count of tickets issued during the campaign won’t be completed until the 20th or 21st of August. If the radio traffic Henderson has been hearing is any indication, however, the troopers have been keeping very busy, he said.
If the trend holds, the troopers may opt to start occasional mini-blitzes, he said. The bottom line is reducing crashes and deaths, he said.
“I can’t emphasize enough that it’s not about the tickets,” he said. “The tickets are means to the end of saving lives.”