The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office wanted to make drivers more aware of speed limits this year. Based on the number of citations written, they’ve been successful.
As of Oct. 9, the department had already surpassed the number of speeding tickets it issued last year. The 10,209 tickets already represent an 8 percent increase over 2012, and there are still about 2½ months left in 2013. There were 9,446 speeding tickets issued last year.
The Augusta Chronicle analyzed the 10,209 issued, finding that Bobby Jones Expressway, Interstate 20 and River Watch Parkway are the three hot spots for getting a speeding ticket. The three roads accounted for more than 3,700 speeding tickets.
“We have had an increased effort to slow (violators) down on Bobby Jones because we had so many crashes over there – and on River Watch and I-20 – that have been major crashes,” Lt. Ramone Lamkin said. “We want our presence to be known out there and to have voluntary compliance.”
The increase in tickets, Lamkin said, is part of an effort to change the behavior of drivers in Richmond County. Reckless behavior, such as speeding, following too closely and driving impaired, is targeted by officers, who “flood” problem areas.
“If there is a problem area, you’re going to see a barrage of police,” Lamkin said. “We’re going to flood the area and try to stop the behavior.”
March, April and May had the highest totals of any month for speeding tickets. That three-month period overlapped Operation Rolling Thunder, a 90-day initiative by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to crack down on traffic violations in counties with the highest number of fatalities.
September has seen the fewest number of citations so far this year, with 773, followed by February, which had 974.
The department’s effort to crack down on speeders was greatly aided by Sheriff Richard Roundtree’s decision last year to restructure the traffic division, increasing the number from two officers per shift to 10
or more. The county was coming off one of its worst years for traffic fatalities in 2012, with 42.
Deputies working in the division focus on nabbing offenders who demonstrate aggressive driving.
“They don’t ride beats and they don’t handle calls,” Lamkin said. “All they do is focus on traffic and traffic violations. We’re trying to create that omnipresence. If they feel like we’re out all the time, they’ll fall into the right behavior without actually having to get a ticket.”
Lamkin described the division as “fluid,” saying it will mull over data to identify problem areas and react accordingly. The result, he said, could decrease the amount of citations that have to be issued over time.
“I don’t want to have our guys issue any citations,” he said. “I won’t say that we will get to the point that we don’t have any, but we will get to the point that you have more people observant of the traffic laws.”