Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal speaks about the importance of enforcing traffic laws Thursday at the THP office in Fall Branch. (Rex Barber/Johnson City Press)
Consider yourself warned: Law officers will be out in force this summer on every road you travel looking for drunken drivers, reckless drivers and motorists not wearing seatbelts.
The kick-off for this summer’s traffic enforcement activities was held Thursday at the Tennessee Highway Patrol office in Fall Branch. Representatives from various law agencies from Tennessee and surrounding states were present to highlight the importance of programs like Click It of Ticket, 100 Days of Summer Heat, Buckle Up in Your Truck and Hands Across the Border, all designed to reduce traffic fatalities.
THP Capt. Stephen Street said this summer marks the 10th year of the 100 Days of Summer Heat campaign.
He said efforts overall are reducing traffic deaths in Tennessee.
“Already this year we’ve seen a 25 percent reduction in fatalities over this same period last year,” Street said. “Our injury crashes, they are down 11 percent at this same point last year. And our crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers is down seven percent, so the partnership is working.”
In a news release, Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal said the single most effective way to prevent injuries and fatalities on the road is to wear a seatbelt. He said seatbelts have been proven to reduce the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat passengers by 45 percent, and by 60 percent in pick-up trucks, sport utility vehicles and mini vans.
Graybeal said the safety campaign is a fantastic initiative because it ensures that people can live, work and play safely in Washington County, but also that people traveling through there are protected.
“We all have one effort in mind, and that’s making everyone as safe as we can make them,” Graybeal said.
David W. Purkey, assistant commissioner of Homeland Security for Tennessee, was also present at the kick-off event and said the fact that law enforcement agencies from all around are participating in these traffic safety initiatives is important to having safe roads.
“I learned as a county mayor for 16 years that you can’t do anything unless you have partnerships,” he said. “We have representatives here from the state of Kentucky, the state of Virginia, North Carolina... and we can not do what we do effectively unless we work with other people who wear the same badge.”