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Pa. police crack down on drivers

January 19, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Habitual highway speeders are being targeted by Pennsylvania State Police with two new enforcement programs aimed at "eliminating the comfort level" of drivers who flaunt traffic laws on Interstate 81.

The motto of operations "Centipede" and "TAG-D" will be "no excuse," said State Police Commissioner Paul J. Evanko in announcing the new crackdown. It's being financed with state and federal funds, he said in a prepared statement.

Chambersburg Trooper D. Peck said police can stop drivers exceeding the posted 65-miles-per-hour speed limit. He said it's up to a trooper's discretion when to pull someone over. Troopers often allow a six-mile grace limit before stopping a motorist.

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"Most people go 65 miles-per-hour, but there's always someone who will pass them at 85," Peck said. Those will be targeted in the new programs, he said.

Evanko said some drivers only obey highway laws when they think they might be stopped.

In the Centipede program troopers will set up consecutive radar traps short distances apart in attempt to fool speeders into thinking they made it past the first trap and can safely speed up again only to be nabbed by a subsequent trap. Police will use hidden and decoy radar, including the cardboard troopers Pennsylvania drivers often see sitting in parked cruisers as they speed by, Peck said.

TAG-D stands for ticketing aggressive drivers. It will go after drivers who disregard highway safety by habitually driving at high speed, who pass in every conceivable way, change lanes with little or no notice and who have an inflated opinion of their driving ability. Their ignorance and impatience endangers all highway users, including themselves. "An active, strict and vigilant enforcement effort is the only remedy for these kinds of drivers," Evanko said.

He pledged to use everything in the highway enforcement arsenal, including unmarked cars, aircraft, construction zone patrols and civilian clothes patrols.

According to police, 209,605 drivers were cited for speeding in Pennsylvania in fiscal 1995-96. About 45 percent of all speeding tickets were issued in 65-mile-per-hour zones.

In December, the last month figures were available, state police in Franklin County said they investigated 103 traffic accidents, including one fatality and 76 that resulted in injuries. They issued 229 citations and 214 warnings to motorists.

On the criminal side, they said they investigated 240 offenses, cleared 94 and made 121 criminal arrests.

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