Traffic enforcement yields ‘six-fold’ citations | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Traffic enforcement yields ‘six-fold’ citations

Sheila Gardner

MINDEN – The first weekend the sheriff’s office increased traffic patrol in Douglas County, deputies issued 43 citations and made five arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

With this year’s statistics surpassing 2004 totals for citations, accidents and fatalities, county commissioners last week approved adding two full-time deputies to traffic patrol. Extra officers were out the next day.

Sgt. Tom Mezzetta said it will take three to six months to process the new deputies, so Sheriff Ron Pierini authorized overtime.

“Those citations weren’t just on Highway 395. We’re covering all 570 square miles in Douglas County,” Mezzetta said.

With the additional officers, Mezzetta said citations and arrests increased six-fold.

Pierini asked for additional help following seven traffic fatalities on Douglas County roadways in less than a month.

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Extra personnel work shifts from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“The Nevada Highway Patrol is trying to send additional troopers down to the area, but they only have 16 troopers who work Carson City, Lyon, Douglas and Washoe counties. That is a huge area,” Mezzetta said.

The two new positions will bring the 10-year-old traffic division up to six officers, Mezzetta said. “We anticipate it will take three to six months to fill the vacancies,” he said. “In the interim, the sheriff has authorized overtime to put more officers on the road to address traffic concerns.

“The Nevada Highway Patrol is working closely with us and they have been very helpful, but they suffer the same manpower shortage we do,” Mezzetta said.

He said if motorists would pay attention and follow traffic rules, including wearing seat belts, it would make a noticeable difference.

“The most common cause of traffic collisions is driver inattention,” he said. “We see drivers eating behind the wheel, talking on the phone, reading papers, putting on makeup, conversing with others in the vehicle. Inattention is definitely a major factor along with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.”

Mezzetta said population growth has put more traffic on the roads and that requires ongoing evaluation of the county’s traffic controls including traffic lights, stop signs and additional roadways.

“Anything to alleviate the congestion of people on the roadways would show a reduction in accidents,” he said.

“If people would voluntarily comply with the rules of the road – slow down, obey the laws, show common courtesy to other motorists – you would see a huge decrease,” he said.

Details

In 2004, deputies issued more than 4,200 traffic citations and responded to 736 traffic accidents. Eight people lost their lives on Douglas County roadways. By Aug. 15, numbers had nearly surpassed totals for last year. So far this year, 11 people have died on county roadways and deputies have responded to 786 traffic accidents and issued 3,600 citations.

Source: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

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