Speeders may draw some HEAT
This summer, highway safety patrol officers will once again turn up the heat on state roadways. The Minnesota State Patrol is continuing its highway enforcement of aggressive traffic (HEAT), with the aid of $1.5 million in federal money. The mone...
This summer, highway safety patrol officers will once again turn up the heat on state roadways.
The Minnesota State Patrol is continuing its highway enforcement of aggressive traffic (HEAT), with the aid of $1.5 million in federal money.
The money provides about 25,000 hours of officer overtime for extra speed enforcement.
Last year, officers wrote an additional 34,000 tickets for speeding and 45,000 warnings.
The program aims to reduce traffic deaths caused by excessive speeding as part of the state's "Toward Zero Deaths" program. The program began after fatality levels increased following a speed limit change on some highways from 55 to 60 miles per hour in 1997.
According to the state patrol, nearly 12 percent fewer traffic deaths occurred in 2006, attributed partly to reduced speed.
A study by the University of Minnesota showed a 29 percent reduction in drivers traveling more than 10 miles per hour above the speed limit on highways last year.
Department of Public Safety office of traffic safety statistics show Hubbard County reported nine traffic fatalities between 2002 and 2006 related to speed, or 30 percent of total automobile fatalities. Estimated costs of the fatal accidents totaled $9.9 million.
Hubbard ranked second in speed-related fatalities among Becker, Clearwater, Beltrami, Cass and Wadena counties. Only Cass recorded more, with 19 during the last four years, about 42 percent of all traffic fatalities.
Estimated costs for speeding fatalities in the six-county area total $53.6 million.
Almost twice as many speed-related traffic fatalities occur in rural areas as urban areas, according to the office of traffic safety.
The Detroit Lakes State Patrol regional office stopped 4,829 drivers and issued 1,370 speed citations during last year's HEAT program.
Law enforcement officers will use the extra work time provided by the grant to patrol roads where speeding is a chronic problem.
"We're not going to tip hands as to where those are just yet," said public safety official Dennis Smith.
During the course of the summer, state patrol agents will put extra patrols on most primary and secondary roads, Smith said.
"You have to go where the fish are biting," he added.
The Hubbard County Sheriff's Office and Park Rapids Police Department collaborated with the state patrol on the HEAT program last year.
The Park Rapids Police Department was not asked to participate this year, said police chief Terry Eilers.
Eilers said he thought construction along Highway 34 this year and heavy ticketing last year, especially along Highway 71, factored into the state's decision not to partner with the police department again.