Law enforcement encourages safe driving during pandemic

By MIKE THOMAS
Courier-Post Sports Editor
mthomas@courierpost.com
Posted: Apr. 9, 2020 1:55 pm Updated: Apr. 9, 2020 1:58 pm

The Missouri Department of Transportation and their law enforcement partners are seeing an uptick in speeding, despite lower traffic volumes on the roadways.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is reminding motorists that speeding is one of the leading causes of traffic crashes and injuries.

“The faster you are driving, the more chances you have for something bad to happen,” said Sgt. Eric Brown, Troop B public information officer. “High speeds increase your breaking distances, and you can't react to danger quick enough when you are traveling at high speeds. Your ability to avoid objects in the roadway will be significantly decreased.”

Speeding drivers has been more of an issue in urban areas and along major highways, such as I-70.

Brown said speeding drivers has been a growing trend statewide that Highway Patrol troopers have been dealing with.

“Obviously it's been more of an issue in our metropolitan areas and our larger cities where people are experiencing less traffic volume than they had in the past,” Brown said. “So their ability to travel in excessive speeds is much easier for them.”

While speeding has increased statewide, there has not been an increase within Marion County.

“We have not seen an increase in the area or on highways regarding speed or other traffic violations,” said Marion County Sheriff Jimmy Shinn. “I believe our accident responses have actually decreased over the past three weeks, as travel is limited.”

Although the Missouri Highway State Patrol has seen an increase in speeders, they have not seen an increase in highway crashes.

“We are continuing to work crashes on a regular basis,” Brown said. “Which is obviously concerning when you are having significantly less travel on the roadways and people are still crashing. The biggest thing there to avoid crashes is people just need to pay attention to the job of driving, obey the traffic laws, slow down and put their seat belts on.”

Law enforcement agencies are also coming up with new guidelines and procedures to keep their officers and the general public safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Marion County Sheriff's Department has changed their intake, booking and processing procedures for inmates at the jail. They have also taken extra steps to clean and disinfect their jail facilities.

“We do have a policy in place in the event that we have an inmate or an employee that comes down with virus symptoms,” Shinn said. “We have handled low-level calls from the phones to cut down on people contacts with our deputies. However, we (will) still respond to any emergency related calls that need our assistance.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is also taking steps to ensure safety as the state deals with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are just asking our officers to be as safe as they can and maintain the social distancing to keep themselves safe,” Brown said. “If they find themselves in the position where they need to make enforcement contact or come in contact with an issue where they can be exposed, (they should) utilize the proper PPE to keep themselves safe.”

The Highway Patrol will continue to offer assistance to first responders and ambulances at any time they request it.

“(First responders) are being very good with the nature when they are asking for help, and they are making sure those resources are needed,” Brown said. “They are looking out for their safety and we are looking out for their safety as well.”

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