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Southwest Greensburg Police ticket 199 drivers, reduce accidents

| Thursday, July 3, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Southwest Greensburg Police have issued 199 traffic tickets as they target aggressive drivers to cut down on the number of accidents on Route 119.

The borough is one of 109 municipalities statewide receiving $2.5 million in special grant funding passed down from the federal government, to PennDOT and then on to municipalities to deter aggressive driving, officials said.

“We're not just out there to write tickets,” said Lt. Kris Chappell, who oversees the borough's program. “We've upgraded signs, we hand out pamphlets. ... Our main goal is not to respond to accidents there.”

Officers are issuing citations for speeding, illegal passing, running red lights and similar actions.

And the number of accidents has been reduced by almost 25 percent.

The first half of Southwest Greensburg's efforts under the Special Aggressive Driving Enforcement project ran from Feb. 13 to June 15.

The campaign will continue into September.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration determines which roads have problems with aggressive driving and accidents and then offers the grants to municipalities, which must apply for the funding, Chappell said.

Southwest Greensburg took part in the program for the first time last year and cited 563 motorists, including 300 for speeding.

The 2013 program focused on concerns about aggressive driving near the Westmoreland County Blind Association building on Route 119, also South Main Street through the borough.

This year's program centers on “the whole business area,” Chappell said.

The effort has yielded results, with a 24 percent decline in accidents in the corridor when 2013 numbers are compared to 2011 statistics, he reported.

The money is earmarked for added enforcement and cannot be used for road repairs or other uses, said Jay Ofsanik, safety press officer for PennDOT's District 12, which includes Westmoreland County.

“The benefit is having added enforcement, visible enforcement, and reducing aggressive driving,” he said.

Of the 199 citations issued this year, 95 centered on speeding. Four motorists were cited for careless or reckless driving, while 81 others were cited for “other moving violations,” according to borough statistics.

Officers cited several area residents during the first few weeks of this year's program, but word about the enforcement apparently spread after that because drivers slowed down in ensuing weeks, Chappell said.

Some motorists even wave as they pass police, he said.

In addition to tickets, stopped motorists get pamphlets on such topics as seat-belt use and problems resulting from aggressive driving, Chappell said.

The tickets written during the program may add dollars to governmental coffers, but the main goal is to prevent traffic fatalities and injuries.

“Prevention is the main thing,” Chappell said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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