Pierce County deputies, officers, troopers to crack down on speed

Motorists in the mid and south county areas are advised to watch their speed this weekend because law enforcement will be paying special attention. Thirty-two officers from 15 agencies in Pierce County will begin ticketing law breakers Saturday as early as 7 a.m. on State Routes 161 (Meridian), 7 (Pacific Highway) and 512 as part of a statewide mobilization. Officers also will be looking for speeders on 176th Street East and Sunrise Boulevard.
The special enforcement will operate all day and into the night. Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies will focus Saturday night on drivers under the age of 25 who street race on county roads surrounding the target area. “We’ve had several fatalities and near-fatalities in recent years from kids floor-boarding it on a whim and prayer,” said Sgt. Paul Schneider. “We also get complaints about the activity from local residents. Our tolerance for high-risk driving by young males is zero.”
The emphasis action is aimed at stopping crashes before they happen by implementing a patrol involving multiple agencies somewhere in the state every week of the year. The public does not make the connection between speeding and fatal crashes as readily as it does between impaired driving and fatalities. Yet, drivers in Washington driving over the speed limit have been responsible for about 40 percent of traffic deaths in recent years.
The extra year-long patrols are expected to reduce these fatalities. The strategy is based on evidence from other states that sustained emphasis patrols, along with targeted media, significantly change the behavior of risk-taking drivers.
The Tacoma Pierce County DUI Task Force received an $85, 000 grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to conduct both speed and DUI patrols through the end of September. Participating agencies in Pierce County are matching these grant funds, enabling police to conduct five speed and five DUI multi-agency patrols.
Motorists can expect to see the following agencies outside their usual jurisdictions beginning this weekend: Ruston, Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Fircrest, Sumner, Steilacoom, Puyallup, Lakewood, Fife, University Place, Bonney Lake, Dupont and Milton police departments along with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. The Washington State Patrol is participating by providing dispatch and assigning extra troopers to the effort.