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Cops to beef up presence on Tri-State roadways

May 28, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

While Memorial Day weekend has always been the traditional kickoff for highway safety campaigns throughout the Tri-State area, this year police seem to be especially determined to maintain a high profile all summer, holidays or not.

Operation Safe Travel was launched May 24 and will continue through Sept. 2. Maryland State Police troopers from Hagerstown, Frederick, Cumberland and McHenry will participate.

Each of the barracks has been allotted federal overtime funds to put extra troopers on the roads, said Maj. Vernon Herron, Western Maryland State Police region commander.

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At midday Sunday, police reported all was relatively quiet on the highways of Washington County. A traffic light out on the Dual Highway at Eastern Boulevard brought officers to the scene to direct vehicles until the problem was corrected.

While speed, aggressive driving and alcohol consumption are always 1-2-3 on the safety hit parade, this year the often-neglected safety tip on proper tire inflation has caught the attention of Maryland's Attorney General Joseph Curran.

n "Improper tire inflation results in thousands of accidents each year," Curran said. "We must send the message that proper tire maintenance can save lives."

The Safe Trip campaign is a national effort that features advertisements on radio and television about proper tire pressure and will continue throughout the summer with emphasis on peak holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that proper tire inflation could have helped save 50 to 80 lives and prevent 6,600 to 10,600 accidents each year.

n Click It Or Ticket is the catch phrase for the stepped-up seat belt enforcement initiative that begins this holiday weekend throughout the region.

Pennsylvania and West Virginia are joining with Maryland in this effort, and zero tolerance will be border to border.

Enforcement will be strictly applied, according to Maryland State Police, who say seat belt use reduces injuries and fatalities.

Speaking for Col. David Mitchell, Maryland State Police superintendent, on the subject of seat belts, Lt. Col. William Arrington said the state police will make no apologies for their efforts. "We have used education in the past ... we now move forward with strict enforcement," he said.

Maryland State Police have also increased patrols on the highways this weekend, looking for aggressive drivers who endanger others, said 1st Sgt. Rick Narron. A new driving law passed by the Maryland General Assembly last year allows police to levy extra fines when there is evidence of aggressive driving.

The aggressive driving law can be used against motorists seen making three or more aggressive driving maneuvers at the same time or within a short time frame, he said.

Speeding, passing on the shoulder and tailgating would be subject to fines for those violations and an additional $350 fine will be given for aggressive driving, he said.

Driving through red lights and failing to yield the right of way are also signs of aggressive driving.

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