KSP RAIDs drivers

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By Brad Bowman

 For Trooper BradArterburn, public affairs officer for Post 5, lowering traffic fatalities doesn’t mean writing more traffic tickets but raising awareness about dangerous driving habits.

Kentucky State Police started a campaign for removing distracted, impaired and aggressive drivers in November. The Operation RAID — Remove Aggressive, Impaired and Distracted drivers — strategy combines compiled local crash data with an increased law enforcement presence.

“Every year I’ve been on the force the road fatalities have gone down,” Arterburn said. “Except this past year they have gone up. We want our fatalities to be zero and if people see us out here it will help.”

Preliminary statistics from law enforcement agencies report that through Dec. 31, 2012, 737 people lost their lives on Kentucky roads. The report shows an increase of 17 more deaths than 2011. From the reported 586 motor vehicle fatalities, 321 victims did not wear seat belts. Law enforcement agencies reported 77 motorcycle fatalities with 39 victims that did not wear a helmet. For the year, 52 pedestrians, seven bicyclists and one scooter/moped rider died. Alcohol was suspected in 140 fatal crashes.

Arterburn said Ali Parham, Crime Intelligence Analyst for KSP Post 5, compiled crash data over the post’s six county area and helped focus the target enforcement zones. Those areas include KY 146, the interstate and Giltner Road.

“I have seen people go 70 mph on Giltner Road and the speed limit is 45,” Arterburn said. “I’ve seen them pass other drivers on the double yellow line and that road is not the place to be driving fast.”

Arterburn admits much of the campaign is just about raising awareness to drivers of their bad driving habits.

“This campaign is getting us to focus about drivers on the interstate who follow 10 feet behind a semi on the interstate,” Arterburn said. “Most people don’t think about it and do it all the time. We are looking for things we are always looking for like speeding, driving under the influence and just getting people to wear their seat belts. It’s the easiest thing someone can do to be safe and for whatever reason, sometimes just habit they don’t do it.”

In less than an hour, Arterburn stopped three drivers for not wearing seat belts, two for speeding, and one who didn’t stop at a stop sign on KY 421. Arterburn mostly gave warnings and emphasized that the campaign isn’t about making money.

“We aren’t out here writing a bunch of tickets for fundraising so we can buy new cruisers,” Arterburn said. “It’s about raising awareness of dangerous driving habits. People need to be aware we will be out there and hopefully it will help make the roads a little safer.”

In the age of smart phones and multitasking, distracted driving is one of the greatest hazards for road safety.

“I had a guy almost swerve into me because he was eating while he was driving on the interstate,” Arterburn said. “He dropped a pickle on the floor and tried to pick it up.  I have seen women putting on make up while they are driving. Whether it is against the law or not it is a distraction and can cause an accident.”

Arterburn said some studies have indicated that a distracted driver talking on the phone functions at the same level as driver impaired with a .08 blood alcohol level.

“People are trying to multitask while they drive and it just doesn’t’ work,” Arterburn said. “I took a guy for a teen driving presentation in Frankfort, he was a passenger in a car while a girl drove and she was texting and they wrecked. He now has severe brain damage and is severely impaired. He can’t live on his own just from someone texting.”

Arterburn said he tries to talk honestly at presentations to teenagers. He emphasized that teenagers need to understand when they are young that driving distracted or impaired can ruin their entire life.

“I try to level with them during presentations. I don’t blow smoke at them and give them some happy little talk,” Arterburn said. “I’m honest with them and tell them that I got tickets when I was a teenager. I tell them that if you text and drive, you hit and kill somebody you are going to jail. You are not going to graduate. You are not going to the prom. You are not going to college. You are going to prison and I will put you there and I am happy to do it.”

A big part of the RAID program is education, Arterburn said. It is one of the few ways to make an impression on young drivers and stresses good driving habits. He will give a demonstration with a roll trailer at Eminence Independent Schools on Friday. The trailer simulates how fast passengers and drivers can be tossed in a vehicle at a low speed.

“We want people to know we are out here to make the roads a little safer for everyone,” Arterburn said. “Whether it is just a courtesy notice or ticket, every bit helps make an impact.”