New traffic officers' work sees big results

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AIKEN --- A black Dodge Charger, driven by Aiken Public Safety's Cpl. Chris Carter, pulled into the parking lot of a bank on Richland Avenue, pursuing a red Ford Mustang.

When the car pulled up alongside him, the officer noticed that the driver wasn't wearing his seat belt. The simple traffic stop led to four traffic citations, one for a child restraint violation.

"Seat belt violations usually lead to other things," he said, pointing to the car where a 4-year-old child was in the back seat unrestrained, sitting next to a box that contained a child seat.

Cpl. Carter is one of two public safety traffic enforcement officers. They have been patrolling Aiken's roads since Jan. 19, thanks to a state grant.

And the two have made their presence known, issuing 1,197 traffic citations and 448 warnings.

"They've been on the road for over three months, and they've generated some impressive statistics," said Sgt. Jake Mahoney, the traffic officers' supervisor, adding that the number of collisions at some intersections has been cut in half.

Whiskey Road at Pine Log Road, an intersection that historically has had the highest number of traffic collisions in the city, has seen a significant reduction in accidents.

In February 2007, 11 collisions there resulted in $22,600 in property damage. In February of this year, the number of collisions was down to three and property damage was reduced to $6,400.

Though not every intersection has seen a reduction in collisions, there has been a difference in the type of collision -- more fender benders with no injuries versus severe accidents with injuries or fatalities, resulting in less money lost in property damage.

For example, at Richland Avenue and Hitchcock Parkway in February 2007, two collisions with injuries resulted in $11,800 in property damage.

In February of this year, there was an increase in accidents at that intersection, but no one was injured in the four collisions and property damage totaled $3,850.

"There's not only been a reduction in collisions but a reduction in the dollar amount on the loss of property," Sgt. Mahoney said.

The traffic officers focus on speeding, seat belt violations, and aggressive drivers and educate the public about traffic safety awareness.

They take their jobs seriously.

"These guys have seen the effects of the alcohol-impaired driver. They've had to deal with the grieving families," Sgt. Mahoney said.

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or michelle.guffey@augustachronicle.com.

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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 05/13/08 - 05:49 am
0
0
"seat belt violations usually

"seat belt violations usually lead to other things". SURPRISE! Who knew the new "shake down" excuse would be the seat belt law?

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 05/13/08 - 07:20 am
0
0
Give me a pistol, badge, fast

Give me a pistol, badge, fast car, ... along with some authority and I will help lower traffic accidents in the county also. I knew the "seat belt law" would be used to get the law into your vehicle and snoop for other violations.

426Hemi
0
Points
426Hemi 05/13/08 - 07:25 am
0
0
Don't want to give anyone

Don't want to give anyone cause to "snoop?" Wear you stinkin' seatbelt. How moronic can ya get? No "surprise" there either, and could HARDLY consider this a "shakedown." Unrestrained children? Damn right the driver needs to be cited! Too bad the cop didn't check tires for proper inflation.

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
Points
BakersfieldCityLimits 05/13/08 - 07:53 am
0
0
WASTE OF TIME AND MANPOWER.

WASTE OF TIME AND MANPOWER. If someone wants to go flying throught the windshield, let them. Concentrate of speeding, riding in the passing lane, no tags.....

goodcopgirl
0
Points
goodcopgirl 05/13/08 - 09:22 am
0
0
the officers are writing

the officers are writing speeding tickets also. to search for drugs you must have probable cause. pulling for a seatbelt is not probable cause. so slow down and wear your seatbelt!

GETACLUE
0
Points
GETACLUE 05/13/08 - 10:45 am
0
0
D1216 I totally agree with

D1216 I totally agree with you on the seatbelt law. If you are stupid enough not to wear it then you decided that tasting glass and asphalt is ok. I think that in regards to children the fines should be tripled. It is absolutely idiotic not to restrain your child with the PROVEN efficacy of child seats. GOODCOPGIRL is right though. If you dont want to be stopped wear the darn thing.

valkrider63
0
Points
valkrider63 05/13/08 - 03:58 pm
0
0
The whole problem is an

The whole problem is an invasion of your personal space. It is just like the helmet law in GA with motorcycles. I wear mine, but what if I didn't want to. Why should a legislator tell me what I can and can't do with my brains or if I want to kiss the windshield so what. I have insurance, and can prove it. Anyway, just my two cents worth.

createyourfuture
68
Points
createyourfuture 05/13/08 - 06:02 pm
0
0
valkrider63: just make sure

valkrider63: just make sure you sign your organ donor card and a waiver of government responsibility for your healthcare after an accident without a helmet. Then I don't care what you do.

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