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Police begin crackdown on Route 8

| Friday, April 13, 2012

Krista Baxter said she was having a good day driving along Route 8 in Shaler on Thursday -- until she saw a police officer directing her to a nearby parking lot, where another officer was waiting with a speeding ticket.

Shaler police said they clocked Baxter driving 14 miles over the 40 mph speed limit along the heavily traveled road.

"I know the road. That's why I did what I did," said Baxter, 25, of Shaler, who travels Route 8 daily and now faces a fine of nearly $150. "Most people are going above the speed limit."

PennDOT announced yesterday that police from Etna, Shaler and the Northern Regional departments in Allegheny County, and Middlesex, Penn and Butler townships in Butler County, along with state police, are teaming up through April 29 to crack down on aggressive driving along Route 8.

"It's not about writing citations," said PennDOT spokesman Shawn Houck. "It's about saving lives."

Shaler police wrote 21 speeding tickets yesterday from a makeshift checkpoint on Route 8, clocking one motorist at 62 mph in a 40 mph zone. PennDOT says about 10,400 vehicles travel the stretch of road daily.

Between 2006 and 2010, 56 crashes stemmed from aggressive driving along Route 8 in northern Allegheny and southern Butler counties, according to PennDOT.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say motorists are guilty of aggressive driving when they commit at least two of these offenses simultaneously: speeding, tailgating, running red lights, illegal or careless passing, making illegal U-turns, turning from the wrong lane and fleeing from police.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said 20 agencies will join enforcement patrols throughout Allegheny County. A similar effort statewide is part of PennDOT's Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education program, which the agency is funding with $2.3 million from the NHTSA.

Statewide, aggressive driving-related crashes rose 21 percent between 2009 and 2010, from 4,763 to 5,755, the latest data available. Though he could not provide specifics, Cowan said the long-term trend shows crashes declining.

That's the case in Allegheny County, where 433 aggressive-driving crashes occurred in 2010, down from 657 in 2007.

Still, speeding is prevalent, Penn police officer Steve Setnar said.

"It doesn't take long to find violators," he said.

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