News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 19, 2013

Operation Pull Over continues

Police keep eye on holiday driving

TERRE HAUTE — With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, the Vigo County Traffic Safety Partnership on Monday announced an ongoing Operation Pull Over enforcement blitz that will continue through Dec. 1.

The “Safe Family Travels” effort will feature checkpoints and saturation patrols seeking seatbelt use violations and impaired drivers.

“We want to ensure that people arrive at their destinations safely,” Sheriff Greg Ewing said during a news conference Monday at the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office. “Especially on Thanksgiving, make sure you’re spending your holiday at the dinner table and not in the emergency room.”

Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse said that statistics show that in 2012, Vigo County had seven alcohol-related crashes and one alcohol-related fatality during the heavy travel dates between Nov. 8 and Dec. 1, when the county had 212 total collisions with 42 total injuries and two total fatalities.

Statewide, there were 12,803 total collisions, which resulted in 2,709 injuries and 41 fatalities during that same time period. Of those crashes, 355 were alcohol-related and resulted in 155 injuries and 5 fatalities.

Locally, police issued 160 citations to motorists and passengers who were not wearing seatbelts.

Sgt. Joe Watts of the Indiana State Police at Putnamville said that ISP patrols will include use of Ford Mustangs, Dodge Chargers, pickup trucks and motorcycles as police patrol for drunken drivers and seatbelt violators.

“It’s more about gaining voluntary compliance with motorists rather than writing tickets,” Watts said.

He encouraged the public to report suspected impaired driving by calling 911 and reporting the location and description of a suspect driver.

Watts also said that children need to be in an approved child restraint seat through age 8, and anyone with questions about child safety seats can go online to www.childseat.in.gov for more information.

“Some crashes may not be preventable,” Watts said, referring to road conditions and weather. “But using a seatbelt and driving sober, that’s your choice.”

Mark Hartman of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute said that funding for overtime patrols and checkpoints will be funneled from federal grants through ICJI to the agencies participating in the Operation Pull Over blitz.

Ewing said that Vigo County has great collaboration between the local law enforcement agencies, as evidenced by the partnership with the city, county and state police.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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