Traffic safety is a continual effort involving education, engineering and enforcement. In Charlotte County, our roads are shared by vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and sometimes even golf carts! Traffic stops are a frequent – and probably the most visible – law enforcement activity that occurs in our county.
There are three primary purposes for every traffic stop, and they all relate back to safety on the roadways. The first is to stop a violation of the law for public safety. Deputies accomplish this purpose merely by stopping the vehicle. The second purpose of the stop is to serve as a general deterrent to other drivers. A deputy’s visible presence with a vehicle at the roadside has this symbolic effect on other drivers. The third purpose – and most important – is to modify the driver’s future driving behavior.
Education about the violated law frequently accomplishes the goal of future compliance. In these cases, the violator is provided a written warning to document the traffic stop. Over the past month (11/6-12/10), Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office deputies conducted 4,049 traffic stops. During these stops, deputies issued 3,400 written warnings and 701 citations. During the same period of enforcement, 29 DUI arrests occurred. These numbers reflect our deputies’ investment in education and safety when interacting with the community during traffic enforcement.
A current example of our Traffic Unit’s focus on intersection safety is the new “no turn on red” traffic patterns at several intersections along the Tamiami Trail corridor in Charlotte Harbor. If you frequent that area, you may have observed new signage prohibiting right turns on red when turning onto Tamiami Trail from Harborview Road and Edgewater Drive. These changes in the traffic pattern can lead to crashes until drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians all learn the new procedures. Our Traffic Unit spent much of their shifts on Thursday and Friday (12/14-12/15) stopping violators and providing education on the new signage. In total, 85 stops were conducted, leading to 79 warnings and 15 citations issued. With the engineering portion of traffic safety in mind, our Traffic Unit provided input from violators on the poor visibility of the signs to the county for consideration. This led to the installation of the posted signs in addition to the hanging ones.
Deputies assigned to road patrol also do traffic enforcement focused in areas of their respective zones. This enforcement is balanced with their assigned calls for service. If you recognize specific times and locations where traffic violations occur, report them. You will find information on traffic enforcement and reporting at https://www.ccso.org/forms/default.cfm#TrafficRequest.
We all rely on each other to know and follow the laws and be alert to behaviors that impact roadway safety. Courtesy and patience also go a long way to helping each of us reach our destination. Practice safe driving yourself and model good behavior. It does make a difference!