If you drive in Bluffton, you have a greater chance of being pulled over now that the police have stepped-up patrols on Highway 278 and Bluffton Parkway. Since 2013, the department has seen a huge increase in traffic citations.
These stepped-up patrols began after the widening of Highway 278 was completed.
Authorities say that, plus a spike in serious accidents, led them to put more cars on the streets, which led to more traffic tickets and fewer accidents….. their message is clear, slow down or you will get pulled over.
“I have noticed more of a police presence lately, and I think more importantly, they arent just sitting in parking lots, they’re out there patrolling,” said driver, Bryan Spendley.
“We definitely increased our patrols which increased our traffic citations, the majority are speeding, speeding and equipment violations,” said Lt. Scott Chandler.
In fact, if you’re speeding, you’re twice as likely to get a ticket than just two years ago.
“As a reformed speeder myself (chuckles) I think them being more active keeps people more accountable for their speed, instead of just saying oh i need to slow down because of a speed trap, their presence I’m aware of it and you take notice,” says Spendley.
“Speeding is the main cause of accidents, and so if we stop speeders and educate them on not speeding, hopefully that will decrease the number of collisions that we have,” Chandler says.
And it seems to be working–fatal accidents are dropping.
“In 2014 we had five fatalities in the town of Bluffton and surrounding areas. In 2015 we had one, that’s about an 80% decrease which is great.”
But not good enough, not yet.
“We are trying to get our officers to write citations for violations that lead up to a collision. Failure to yield, following to close, improper lane change, we need to start hitting on those a little bit more.”
A new traffic task force will help do that hitting. Funded by a federal grant, this new task force will focus on cutting out roadway dangers and, of course, more cops on more patrols…..yes, writing more tickets. .
“Absolutely its having bodies on the roadway, but its also having our sergeants understand where things are happening in the town of Bluffton. If we’re having accidents, they need to allocate resources to that area. So part of our strategic plan was to decrease collisions and part of that is to know where they are occurring.”
As for drivers like Spendley……..
“I would say I defintely feel safer, because you have less people driving like maniacs on the roads, and that helps.”
The department wrote more than 700 tickets last year, compared to about 300 the year before.
If you’re wondering where will the money from these citations go –officials say most of that money goes to the state, not here locally.