Extra patrols target Pierce County speeders

Speed-related collisions involving motorists in Pierce County resulting in injury or death are increasing. Newly released data for the county indicates that there were 31 speed-involved deaths compared to 27 impaired driving fatalities in 2008.

“Without reducing any of our efforts to curb DUI, this summer we’re launching a two-prong strategy for reducing speed-related crashes,” said Mike Mitchell, chief of the Bonney Lake Police Department and chair of the Tacoma Pierce County DUI Task Force.

The grant-funded strategy involving 17 Pierce County law enforcement agencies and the Washington State Patrol involves the continued deployment of officers to X-52 patrols which operate weekly throughout the state; and 16 multi-agency speed patrols, six of which will focus on unsafe motorcycle riders (since 11 riders lost their lives on Pierce County roads in 2008).

The additional end-of-week patrols are targeting nine roads in the county where data indicates that a higher-than-average number of serious injury and fatal speed-related crashes have taken place. These include: 112th Street East/South, 176th Street East, Canyon Road, 160th Street East, Spanaway Loop Road, 94th Avenue East, Brookdale Road, 131st Street East and Military Road.

Patrols on June 27 and July 3 conducted by the task force and hosted by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Fife and Puyallup Police Departments resulted in 770 motorists being stopped for unsafe driving and 484 being ticketed for speeding.

“It’s all about one simple message,” says Paul Schneider, traffic sergeant for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. “Slow down or pay up.”

The task force’s stepped-up patrol results will be evaluated by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to see if increased patrols combined with publicity for the patrols will work to reduce speed-related crashes.

Participating in the ongoing and the additional grant-funded, targeted speed patrols are the Bonney Lake, Fircrest, Sumner, Ruston, Orting, Gig Harbor, Roy, Dupont, Edgewood, Milton, Steilacoom, Fife, Tacoma, UP, Lakewood and Puyallup Police Departments along with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington State Patrol.