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Friday, May 6, 2016

State Police vow to pull out all stops to reduce district fatalities

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Various Indiana State Police vehicles being employed in a concentrated Crash-Reduction Enforcement Program in the Putnamville District are on display at Terre Haute International Airport Thursday afternoon.
SEELYVILLE -- See that INDOT truck beside you? It just might not be a highway department vehicle.

And that red Mustang rolling along in the passing lane? It might be more cruiser than cruisin'.

Because that's the way the Indiana State Police roll now, thanks to a new enforcement program aimed at reducing severe accidents and eliminating fatalities.

Motivated by a dramatic rise in the number of fatal and serious traffic accidents in the Putnamville District this year, Indiana State Police have mobilized to utilize new tactics to combat the problem.

Keynote speaker Lt. Dan Jones, commander of the Putnamville District, addressed the situation during a Crash-Reduction Enforcement Program for area media Thursday afternoon at Terre Haute International Airport outside Seelyville.

Since Jan. 1, Lt. Jones advised the media that 17 fatal accidents already have been recorded in the Putnamville District. He called the trend "alarming."

Sadly, that figure represents only eight fewer fatalities than the 25 occurring in the district during all of 2011, noted Sgt. Joe Watts, Putnamville District public information officer. For 2010, the total was 35, Watts said.

Meanwhile, all across Indiana, fatal accidents are up nearly 25 percent since 2011.

In the Putnamville District, with 17 traffic deaths already occurring prior to July 1 this year, State Police officials stress that their goal is to curb that trend.

"Statewide and locally," Lt. Jones stressed, "we are studying these districts and working to reverse that trend. Our No. 1 mission is to reduce these crashes."

The increase in fatalities continues to be more prevalent in rural areas, Jones noted.

The most common factors among the recent fatal accidents have been speeding, driving left of center, drivers attempting to overcorrect after leaving the roadway and failure to yield the right-of-way, Jones pointed out.

State Police believe one way of curbing dangerous driving on Hoosier highways is to employ a variety of vehicles to monitor distracted drivers.

Those unmarked undercover vehicles range from a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to Dodge Ram trucks labeled as Indiana Department of Transportation vehicles to even fixed-wing aircraft.

Others include white Dodge Chargers and red Ford Mustangs as well as fully marked ISP cruisers.

"Another interesting observation," Putnam-ville's Jones pointed out, "is the correlation between the number of Indiana State Police traffic contacts -- tickets or warnings issued -- as compared to the number of reported crashes from all police agencies across Indiana."

In the Putnamville District some 30 troopers patrol regularly, while overall 1,320 troopers serve the entire state, Watts said. 

Authorities believe more enforcement can mean fewer serious accidents and fewer fatalities.

Of the Putnamville District fatalities occurring this year, a dozen have been of the one-vehicle variety, which State Police say is very atypical of such accidents.

Also of note, the majority of fatal accidents in the district have occurred between noon and midnight. And six of those area fatalities involved drivers or passengers not wearing seatbelts.

Seatbelts will continue to be a focus of any and all enforcement efforts, Lt. Jones assured, while drivers who text or use cell phones or other mobile devices while driving also will be targeted and reprimanded.

"Overall, we are looking for people who appear to be distracted in their driving," Jones said.

"Indiana has pretty high seatbelt usage numbers," he added, "and we intend to make them higher."

In conclusion, Sgt. Watts offered "a sincere thanks to the Terre Haute International Airport and Darrel Zeck, director of airport operations and development, for assisting us" in the Crash-Reduction Enforcement Program seminar conducted for area media Thursday.

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This is nothing more than a dog and pony show for the ISP. They have not used aircraft to enforce traffic violations for years due to the high cost of fuel.

-- Posted by The Great Outdoors on Sat, Jun 23, 2012, at 7:15 PM

I haven't seen the airplane (that's the way they want it - you don't know it's there until you get a ticket) but I have seen the others and I think it is great that they are out there. Too many wreckless & distracted drivers out there.

-- Posted by VolunteerFF on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 5:34 AM

Can't outrun Motorola........

-- Posted by kubotafan on Mon, Jun 25, 2012, at 3:39 PM

Thanks for showing us and telling us what these vehicles look like.

-- Posted by stealthmode on Thu, Jun 28, 2012, at 2:09 PM

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