ROCKINGHAM — At least four downtown drivers were caught speeding in a one-hour span Wednesday, and police say the traffic stops are part of an ongoing campaign to reduce crashes in the city limits.
Officer R.B. Lugabihl of the Rockingham Police Department’s traffic unit was stationed on East Washington Street to monitor passing motorists’ speed. Police Chief Billy Kelly said the sites for targeted enforcement change frequently.
“We have four traffic officers here, and he (Lugabihl) is one of them,” Kelly said. “That’s an area today he’s focused on. Last week it was Aslington Street. Tomorrow he may be on Aberdeen Road or U.S. 1.”
Kelly said the stepped-up patrols for speeding are a valuable tool for keeping drivers aware of speed limits everywhere in the city.
“It’s nothing more than trying to reduce collisions,” Kelly said. “It’s because of the traffic enforcement that we were able to report to the city last month a decrease in motor vehicle collisions.”
In the traffic enforcement report, Kelly states that the main responsibilities of the traffic enforcement unit, restructured in 2012, is to “enforce traffic laws, conduct driving while impaired and seat belt checkpoints and investigate traffic collisions in the city.”
The report also states that Rockingham police officers investigated 561 collisions in the city limits — a decrease from 675 in 2012. Additionally, traffic fatalities dropped from three to two.
N.C. Department of Public Safety figures reflect a similar downward trend in the number of enforcement activities by category. In 2012, there were 360,021 speeding violations, and 865 fatal collisions on the highways. In 2013, those numbers dropped to 347,214 speeding violations and 816 fatal crashes.
Kelly said the additional citations are not frivolous, and are not part of a specific campaign to reduce speeding in limited locations.
“They’re not writing (citations) for 21 in a 20,” Kelly said. “They are doing 10 to 15 miles over the speed limit, so the ones you see up there are speeding excessively. Next time, they may see the speed trailer there, and later it may be an officer.”
But even the traffic officers don’t devote 100 percent of their time to writing traffic citations, according to Kelly.
“They have to be in court some days,” he said. “They have schools, training to go to. You just never know when they’ll be out there.”
Reach reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @MelonieFlomer.