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Richmond County deputies writing more traffic citations as warning to motorists

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After a 79 percent increase in traffic fatalities last year, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office wants drivers to be more careful on the road.

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Deputy Daniel Puckett monitors traffic on Gordon Highway.   JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Deputy Daniel Puckett monitors traffic on Gordon Highway.

The number of citations deputies have written so far this year shows they’re serious about making their presence felt.

Less than one-third of the way through the year, deputies are already close to reaching the total number of citations –
8,184 – written in 2011. Through April 1, deputies had written 7,869.

“People are in too much a rush,” sheriff’s Lt. Randy Prickett said. “Nobody wants to leave early.”

Traffic fatalities jumped from 19 in 2010 to 34 in 2011. There have been 12 fatalities this year, with seven in April alone.

All deputies can write traffic citations, Prickett said, but most are written by the county’s eight traffic deputies.

“Unfortunately, the regular deputies don’t have a lot of time,” he said.

One of those traffic deputies is Daniel Puckett, who stood on a side street off Gordon Highway on April 18 with his radar gun pointed at vehicles topping a hill near Dan Bowles Road. Almost immediately after zeroing in on a vehicle, he knew its speed.

“Sixty-four. Silver,” he said to the first of five deputies in a line of patrol cars.

The deputy headed out, blue lights flashing, after the speeding car. The next officer in line pulled forward to wait for the next offender.

Puckett said drivers often try to claim officers got the wrong car, but with the Kustom Pro Laser III he was using, it was almost impossible not to pin a car down to an exact speed.

Three of this year’s fatal crashes occurred on Gordon Highway, a long commuter road connecting multiple counties.

“It’s one of our main focuses because of all the traffic,” Prickett said.

The crackdown on Gordon High­way continued for two more days and ended with 102 citations, 22 warnings and one DUI charge.

Columbia County has 13 traffic cars focused on catching speeders, Capt. Steve Morris said. He said the county looks at statistical analyses and traffic times to determine when and where traffic cars should be deployed.

So far this year, officers have issued more than 600 speeding citations. The county has one reported traffic fatality so far this year.

Morris said Columbia and Wash­ing­ton roads and Interstate 20 are where they see most speeders.

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Discussionstarter
478
Points
Discussionstarter 04/28/12 - 08:09 pm
0
0
Please come to Furys Ferry

Please come to Furys Ferry Road between Evans-to-Lock and Riverwatch Parkway. No one is helping us deal with the continuous speeding and running of the red light in front of Zaxbys.

Walden
41
Points
Walden 04/28/12 - 10:57 pm
5
0
Waiting for the inevitable

Waiting for the inevitable "they are just writing tickets to get money" comment or they "need to spend more time looking for criminals". Richmond County had more vehicle fatalities than they had homicides last year. If you are speeding or driving recklessly you are a vehicular homicide waiting to happen.

raul
4619
Points
raul 04/29/12 - 12:39 am
0
0
That;s about 16 tickets per

That;s about 16 tickets per day for each of the 8 deputies? Somebody check my math.

itsanotherday1
42216
Points
itsanotherday1 04/29/12 - 01:30 am
1
4
Walden, I would like to see

Walden, I would like to see some stats on the causes of those fatalities before drawing conclusions, and yes; traffic citations are a huge money maker for law enforcement. Those five deputies lined up to collect the road taxes would have served public safety better had they been patrolling and citing the REAL hazardous drivers; those darting in and out of lanes, driving faster than the traffic flow, cutting people off at exits, lollygagging in the left lane, etc., etc. Speeding in and of itself is not a cause of accidents; it is differential speed of traffic in the same vicinity. The only way to catch those is to observe them.

nnaugusta
533
Points
nnaugusta 04/29/12 - 01:33 am
2
1
That's pocket change compared

That's pocket change compared to North Augusta I'm sure.

irishfarmer
24
Points
irishfarmer 04/29/12 - 02:29 am
3
8
Why not be honest about it?

Why not be honest about it? This was and is nothing but a good ol' fashion speed trap. So that Richmond County can meet a quota and make some cash. It has nothing to do with safe roads. Now what they do on Highway 56 sitting in the median with their lights on in the spot by Inter. Paper, now that is caring about public safety getting folks to slow down in a dangerous spot. Writng tickets does not slow people down just look at how many people have gotten more than one speeding ticket in their lives. Want to do something about public safety then how about this? Instead of a traffic division to write tickets. Try a actual robbery division to stop folks from getting mugged or their houses broken into. How about catching REAL criminals instead of folks who are going a little fast coming into town going to work or what not?

HotDiva01
0
Points
HotDiva01 04/29/12 - 02:38 am
3
7
Irishfarmer: I agree with you

Irishfarmer: I agree with you and you are correct on this one. This is nothing but small town, Dukes of Hazzard nonsense. Andy and Barny in Mayberry did not even stoop too the levels that our law enforcement is lowering themselves to. I agree what they are doing on Highway 56 just being there too slow folks down is good. Talk about writing some tickets they could really rake in on that stretch of Highway. And another thing about the Hwy 56 patrol. I saw them outhere a week ago and one of the patrol cars did not even have a deputy in it that was facing south on Hwy 56. So if there was not a deputy in it they could not be measuring speeds. Because they know their presense and blue lights flashing is enough to slow folks down.

Walden
41
Points
Walden 04/29/12 - 07:11 am
7
0
Irishfarmer, #1 quotas are

Irishfarmer, #1 quotas are illegal in the stated of GA. #2 Most of the money generated by tickets goes to the state and the court system. Only a small portion goes to the local govt. #3 Some people do get multiple tickets and keep on doing it, others dont. #4 There is a burglary supression team that has been very effective in the last year. #5 If the SO had the man power and the money to do so, they might be able to dedicate a group of officers and investigators thats sole purpose was to prevent robberies. But since yall are under the misguided idea that this is soley a money making scheme and are against it, I guess they wont have the money to do it. And HotDiva is pretty much right. The presense of the patrol car alone is slowing people down. But once people get used to a car sitting there with no one in it they will speed back up again. Speed has been a factor in most of the fatalities, not all. Of course there are others, running a red light etc... However Diva, every single law enforcement agency out there at one time or another write tickets. It's not Andy and Barney out there. Anytime there is a bad wreck somewhere, you all get on here and complain about the speeding or the reckless driving. When L.E. does something about it you complain about that too. Make up your minds.

Walden
41
Points
Walden 04/29/12 - 07:13 am
5
0
And itsanotherday....I think

And itsanotherday....I think those officers are observing them...and writing tickets at the same time. What else do you want.

tanbaby
1293
Points
tanbaby 04/29/12 - 08:03 am
7
1
if someone has a problem with
Unpublished

if someone has a problem with the police writing speeding tickets, don't speed!!!! you won't have to worry about a ticket then....

InChristLove
22468
Points
InChristLove 04/29/12 - 08:16 am
5
0
Walden, excellent comments!

Walden, excellent comments! Diva and IrishFarmer, the deputy with the blue light in front of IP on Hwy 56 was there to help control traffic in and out of the plant due to a shutdown going on and had nothting to do with traffic speed. They were there to help control the massive traffic between employee and contractors coming in and out of the plant.

I've seen patrol cars parked on Hwy 56 and it slows people down for a very brief time but as soon as the patrol presence is gone, cars resume their dangerous habit of going 65 on this stretch of road.

itsanotherday1
42216
Points
itsanotherday1 04/29/12 - 09:23 am
0
4
Walden, they are observing

Walden, they are observing very little sitting still. How many cars in traffic do they have and how many were committed to sit there and chase? Much better served for public safety if they were rolling.

itsanotherday1
42216
Points
itsanotherday1 04/29/12 - 09:28 am
1
4
"Taking away their ability to

"Taking away their ability to enforce speed-limit laws, local officials say, has been a major public safety concern.

Accident data from the past three years doesn't support those concerns. But there has been a significant financial toll on city coffers"

http://www.ajc.com/news/gwinnett/gwinnett-cities-eager-to-1345092.html

Now, tell me again about the financial impact and effect on accidents?

Walden
41
Points
Walden 04/29/12 - 09:42 am
3
0
itsanotherday1, a small

itsanotherday1, a small percentage of the traffic units time is spent sitting running radar or LIDAR. They usually do that during high volume times. The rest of the time is spent patrolling the streets. And as far as financial impacts, ask anyone that has been involved in a serious wreck and ask what the financial impact was. Once again, everyone complains when something bad happens and why were the police not there or doing something about it. And again, when they are doing something about it, people complain. Pardon me, I'm just gonna go head to the donut shop and wait for you all to make up your minds. (wow look, another cliche)

nocnoc
41334
Points
nocnoc 09/02/12 - 09:17 am
4
0
allhans
23546
Points
allhans 04/29/12 - 11:34 am
8
0
I was on Highland at

I was on Highland at Wrightsboro yesterday afternoon when a small black sports car came by cutting in and out of traffic, driving much faster than the speed limit.
THEN....What did I see? A police car with lights flashing. Did my heart good to see the jerk pulled over.

csraguy
2250
Points
csraguy 04/29/12 - 11:50 am
4
0
This, as are many subjects is

This, as are many subjects is a loose / loose for Law Enforcement.

If they don't conduct enough traffic enforcement, more people have accidents, more die, etc. and yes, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have plenty of facts to back that statement up. In addition to injured persons and family/friends that are killed on our roadways, the cost to insurance companies, hospitals and public safety is enormous and is all passed on to the consumers and taxpayers. Frankly, I would prefer that those who don't wish to obey the laws are the ones paying more than everyone else and if they continue failing to comply with the laws then revoke their driving privileges.

On the other hand, when police do their jobs and properly enforce the traffic laws (which also often net other criminal activity), they are ridiculed by the citizens which they pull over and by those such as the statements above. They are told it is just for money although it does not affect their salary and they don't have quotas.

The Augusta Chronicle needs to dig deeper and show where the money goes for an average ticket as many would be surprised. The large majority goes back to the state for infrastructure, drivers license officers, and other items within the state budget. A small percentage goes to the county budget general fund and out of that, a percentage does in fact go to help the public safety budget but it is very minimal. Now, if the person is driving more than 15 mph over the limit in select areas the state will hit them with a "super speeder" law and 100% of that fine goes towards trauma centers (ZERO to Law Enforcement) because the many wrecks within the state place a heavy burden on trauma centers.

It really amazes me how so many will stand up for law breakers and instead place blame on authority no matter what laws are being broken until it personally effects them. Speed Kills, period. Speed combined with talking on the phone, listening to the radio, etc. up the danger even further but since the police can't really do anything about the other dangers within your car, they must focus on the speed.

When you get pulled over, because YOU chose to ignore the posted laws, the life that the officer may have saved that day could be yours or someone you know.

itsanotherday1
42216
Points
itsanotherday1 04/29/12 - 01:17 pm
1
5
CSRA, who is standing up for

CSRA, who is standing up for lawbreakers? All that has been pointed out is the police would be more effective by patrolling rather than sitting still with the specific intent of catching speeders. Public safety is better served by catching those cutting others off, weaving in and out, etc. You can't catch an obviously impaired driver from looking through a laser viewfinder; you have to follow him and observe. I gave you an article that proved in Gwinnett County that the inability to write speeding tickets with radar/laser had ZERO impact on the accident rate.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 04/29/12 - 02:15 pm
0
0
Food for thought in our
Unpublished

Food for thought in our nation of laws. Just how does a traffic judge hand down any judgement for traffic tickets issued by an officer who was not using a radar device and was relying on a observation by an officer whose job depends on quantity? Of course if you want to fight it then your work must be backed up by a lawyer at your expense while the deputy has the taxpayer solicitor.

csraguy
2250
Points
csraguy 04/29/12 - 02:26 pm
4
0
itsanotherday1, this is just

itsanotherday1, this is just one tool in a large box that does in fact help slow speeders down and you cannot deny that speed is a factor in many crashes and deaths. You did bring one article covering a short time period in a couple of cities and it should be used as part of the overall picture. However, there are plenty of state studies and national studies that are available from both of the organizations I previously listed showing how aggressive enforcement combined with education and high visibility are all positive tools in reducing crashes and deaths. And, you CAN observe an impaired driver while watching Lidar and having an officer follow for further observation. You can also better observe those driving recklessly and weaving in and out of traffic because you have a different vantage point. I am not advocating keeping 5 deputies at any one place all of the time but by continually changing up the techniques it does make many think twice which is one of the goals in traffic enforcement. All methods must be used at various times and to simply condemn one, make comments about quotas and say they just do this to make money, etc. is in fact standing up for lawbreakers (as others above did) while condemning those doing their best to do the jobs they are asked to do.

Anything that can be done to reduce speeders is a good thing. Hit them in their pocket enough and they will learn and if that does not work then their license should be revoked.

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 04/29/12 - 05:18 pm
3
0
Several studies show that

Several studies show that traffic enforcement declines all other crimes to include violent ones. Speed kills, so keep writing.

itsanotherday1
42216
Points
itsanotherday1 04/29/12 - 08:57 pm
0
2
"Speed kills" HS, that is not

"Speed kills"

HS, that is not necessarily true. A person running 40 in a traffic flow of 60 is equally likely to cause an accident as someone running 80 in a flow of 60. Higher speeds do increase severity of injury, but not necessarily the frequency. If everyone is running 75 on I-20, there is no issue unless traffic is very heavy.

CSRA, the police can only observe a few hundred yards when sitting still, they can control miles and miles when moving and running radar.

ExpertCompSci
3
Points
ExpertCompSci 04/29/12 - 10:59 pm
2
2
They are just writing tickets

They are just writing tickets to get money. They need to spend more time looking for criminals.

itsanotherday1
42216
Points
itsanotherday1 04/30/12 - 10:25 pm
0
0
Expert, I'm a critic, but I

Expert, I'm a critic, but I don't agree. Municipalities DO depend on the money in their coffers; but from a LE perspective it is low hanging fruit and an easy way to spend their time while feeling productive. I don't believe for a minute there are quotas or any pressure to write a certain number of tickets; even though the data does show that ticket revenue is figured into the municipal/LE budget. My one and only issue is that it is done in the guise of public safety when there are better methods to ensure that goal. They are handing out tickets to those who were speeding but not posing a threat when others are getting by with much more dangerous driving. You can't catch the latter sitting in the shadows playing gotcha.....

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