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Hampton/Shaler

Hampton will not participate in PennDOT aggressive driving campaign

| Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, 1:36 a.m.

Not all Hampton council members were on board with implementing an aggressive driving campaign in the township, with a motion falling flat at the Dec. 5 council meeting.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation provides grant money to pay for overtime to participating police departments who are to target aggressive driving in their municipalities. Hampton police Chief Tom Vulakovich was contacted several times by a state liaison to the program to consider the program, so he presented the idea to council.

The program is held in Northern Regional, Richland, and Shaler townships, according to Vulakovich.

He said the program targets careless, distracted and reckless driving. It is federally funded with the money being distributed through PennDOT.

Council member Carolynn Johnson and council President Michael Peters both thought the aggressive driving campaign was a good idea. Johnson noted that distracted driving is becoming a problem.

She made a motion to approve, but it was not seconded by the remaining three members, Richard Dunlap, Bethany Blackburn and Sherry Neugebauer.

Vulakovich said Hampton participated in the program years ago, but former council members “decided it wasn’t best for our community by the way it’s enforced.”

The campaign is held in September and October, March and April, and July and August. Orange signs are placed in the area of the campaign, alerting drivers that the program is taking place.

Vulakovich said the state wants to see citations issued, not warnings, perhaps at least two per hour.

“It’s supposed to be zero tolerance, but the officers have the discretion on what they decide to do,” he said.

“It just strikes me a little heavy-handed to send people out and to say, ‘Come back with a handful of citations,’ ” said Dunlap.

Vulakovich did not express any opinion on the program.

In 2017, there were 323 motor vehicle accidents. This year, not counting December, there have been 326.

Vulakovich said with technology, it’s getting harder to compare.

“Because of cellphones, there’s always distracted driving,” he said.

He noted that it’s not illegal to text when stopped at a red light. But once the car starts to move, it is.

Vulakovich said the municipality often monitors driving in areas with the most complaints. Problematic roads include South Pioneer, Bardonner and McNeil. Officials will be attentive to aggressive driving problems whether the campaign is implemented or not.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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