04/06/12 — Officers on lookout for speeders

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Officers on lookout for speeders

By Gary Popp
Published in News on April 6, 2012 1:46 PM

Law enforcement agencies across the state are conducting a campaign through the Easter weekend to encourage motorists to slow down.

Lawmen are increasing their patrol presence on roadways during "No Need 2 Speed," which started earlier this week and will run until Sunday night.

The program was initiated by the Governor's Highway Safety Program, a project of the state's Department of Transportation.

DOT officials said the program is designed to prevent accidents during an uptick of drivers on the roads as people take trips during their spring breaks and visit friends and family during the holiday weekend.

Capt. John Biggins of the Goldsboro police said the department's patrol division is fully engaged in the program and is increasing its focus on stopping speeders.

"The program is basically to cut down on traffic accidents and make sure folks slow down. During the holidays a lot of people are on the road visiting family," he said.

Biggins said officers in the patrol division are making a concerted effort to keep people safe behind the wheel while they go about their holiday activities.

"When the campaign started, all the shifts were told what the campaign was for and what they should be on the look out for," he said.

Biggins said in Wayne County during last year's campaign, 162 speeding citations were issued, and more than 600 citations were handed out on a variety of violations following the traffic stops.

More than 12,000 speeding tickets were issued throughout the state during the 2011 campaign.

The patrol division is better-prepared to target speeders during the current campaign, Biggins said, as it has acquired additional tools in the past year.

The new equipment includes the addition of a hand-held LIDAR unit, which allows officers to sit in a stationary patrol car and project a speed-tracking laser on passing vehicles.

The department also acquired three additional dual-antenna radar units, which help officers track speeds of vehicles while the patrol car is traveling.

Biggins added that "No Need 2 Speed" is important as ever, as many drivers today are preoccupied too often with digital devices while operating their vehicles.

"Unfortunately, with cell phone usage people are not quite attentive to what their speed is," he said.

Biggins said a new state law directed at young drivers will be in effect for the first time during the "No Need 2 Speed" campaign.

The new law, which took effect January, will give harsher sentencing to those with provisional licenses who are caught exceeding the speed limit.

For the provisional-license drivers who are stopped for traveling more than 15 mph over the posted speed limit, or more than 80 mph on a highway, they will be taken into custody by an officer and taken before a magistrate, Biggins explained.

Those drivers could lose their license for 30 days, he added.

According to statistics released by the Governor's Safety Highway Program, in 2011, speeding was a contributing factor in about 33 percent of crashes across the state.

Those accidents resulted in 428 fatalities and 39,416 injuries.