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Speed Awareness Day Campaign a Success for Atwood Police

Why do people drive with a suspended license? In addition to the suspended license and speeding, this gal was not wearing a seat belt. It sure makes for a bad day.

By Doris Elmore
Staff Writer

Speed Awareness Day was held on Wednesday, July 27, and the Atwood Police Department joined law enforcement officers from six states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin) in this year’s NHTSA Region 5 high visibility

Speed Awareness Day enforcement campaign. Atwood Police Chief Rob Bross issued a total of 10 citations during the campaign, with seven of those citations being for speed related violations. The speed awareness campaign had a twofold approach; to combine increased, zero-tolerance enforcement with effective communication to road users on the importance of obeying the speed limit.

One of the highlights of the day for this reporter was to be asked to ride along in the afternoon to get a true feeling of what it is like for the police officer. I did this a few years ago, and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint this time either. Rob pulled into the funeral home and parked the car on the west drive facing Rt. 36. The car is left running of course and he uses the radar gun checking the motorist’s speed. He is checking to see if people slow down in the 45-mph zone. As most of us know just driving through the area there are a lot of speeders. With Rt. 36 being a long straight road through our area, people have a tendency to “miss” the 45-zone sign.

While I was with Rob, we discussed the speed awareness program and how he thinks the program helps people slow down. I can tell you it is a rush when he catches someone speeding and we take off after them. The first stop was a semi hauling beans.

A shock was when the semi-driver was from South Africa, but here earning a living hauling beans. The second stop was a van & driver from Michigan just ignoring the speed sign, but he was going way over the limit.

The third stop was a car traveling fast, also ignoring the 45-mile zone. When they finally found a place to pull over, Chief Bross went to the car and got her license and insurance cards. When he put it into the computer, he found out she was driving on a suspended license and no seat belt, in addition to speeding. Rob talked with her and she called her boyfriend. He could not come and get the car because the car she was driving was their only vehicle. Rob took her license and we drove her to where she was living in Tuscola. She received a ticket and has to work on getting her license back, but Rob drove her boyfriend back to the car so he could drive her home. That had to make for a very bad day. She was in her twenties and I certainly hope she learned her lesson. Rob could have arrested her, but did the next best thing, taught her a lesson and let her know not to do this.

The speed awareness campaign was a 1-day speed enforcement event coordinated by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, participating state highway safety officer and their respective law enforcement liaisons. The initiative was held in July because studies show that the most fatal crashes where speed is a contributing factor occur between June and September.

“The hard work of officers in the enforcement efforts are instrumental in preventing injuries and saving lives,” said Chief Bross. “We want to remind the public that speed is one of the leading contributing factors in fatal traffic crashes. There is never a good reason for a motorist to exceed the speed limit and endanger others.”

NHTSA statistical projections for 2021 shows traffic deaths grew by 10.5% to 42,915. This also represents the highest number of fatalities since 2005 and the highest annual percentage increase in the recorded history of data in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

In 2020 there were 5,413 fatal crashes in the six-state region with 1,668 (30.08%) being speed related fatalities. This was an increase of 17.7% from 2020. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness and save lives. Rob stated, “There is no reason to speed, it is unnecessary and endangers everyone on the road.”

I did ask Rob a question that I have been hearing for years and that was “do police really have a quota in giving tickets?” He answered that it is against the law for police to have a quota for tickets. I also noticed the risk the officer takes when stopping someone. When you walk up to any vehicle, you run the risk of being shot. Officers take a big risk every day.

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