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The Palmyra Police Department is doing its part this month to help prevent traffic fatalities.
Police Chief Eddie Bogue announced Friday, his department is participating in three grant-funded traffic enforcement initiatives in March and is planning to do more through the year.
After statewide traffic facilities reached a 20-year low of 749 in 2008, the numbers have been on the rise and actually topped the 1,000 mark last year for the first time since 2000.
Bogue said 2021 state traffic statistics that showed a large increase in traffic fatalities has prompted a statewide effort bolstered by local police departments to get those numbers back down for 2022.
“I just think it’s important we do our part to save lives if we can,” said Bogue of the decision to become involved in the initiatives, especially due to Palmyra’s location along U.S. 61.
Palmyra Police are already involved this week, March 7-11, in a “seat belt blitz” through a $500 grant funded through the Missouri Department of Transportation.
The department will then take part in a special driving while intoxicated enforcement initiative March 16-20 through a $700 grant that funds police officer overtime.
Also coming is a youth seat belt enforcement campaign March 15-31 funded by a $500 grant.
While speeding and inattention are considered the root cause of all traffic crashes, Bogue acknowledged that lack of seat belt usage is a large factor in fatality numbers.
He also pointed to an overall growing lack of police officers leading to less traffic enforcement as a reason for growing crash and fatality numbers.
And, he also acknowledged the COVID-19 pandemic also caused a drop in enforcement as well.
Bogue said experts point out the three Es, education, engineering and enforcement are the keys in making road travel safer, and that police departments are left to focus on the enforcement part.
As a result, Bogue said, his department has strived to have a strong enforcement presence along U.S. 61 where speed limits go down from 65 to 55 through the city limits.
As an example of how speeding is an issue along the corridor, Bogue noted that one of his officers issued 11 speeding citations along U.S. 61 on Sunday, March 6, with the lowest of speeds being 75 mph.
“I don’t know what else we can do,” Bogue said of the need for continued enforcement.