Johnson County police conducting traffic blitz

The Johnson County Law Enforcement Coalition will be stepping up patrols to help curb dangerous driving. The enforcement campaign will run through April 4.

The safety initiative is designed to reduce crashes, traffic fatalities and promote safe driving around St. Patrick’s Day and the NCAA Tournament, according to a press release from the coalition.

Officers will be conducting patrols over the next several weeks, showing zero tolerance for anyone driving aggressively, over the speed limit or under the influence. The extra enforcement is funded through National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, ICJI.

An estimated 31,720 people were killed on U.S. roadways in the first nine months of 2021, a 12% increase from 2020, NHTSA data shows.

Preliminary ICJI data shows 941 people died in fatal crashes in Indiana last year. That’s up 5% from 2020; it’s also a 16% increase from 2019 and represents the highest number of traffic fatalities since 2005.

Alcohol and drug impairment, distracted driving, speeding and not wearing seat belts are some of the leading causes behind the rise in fatalities, data shows.

The department encourages motorists to wear a seat belt at all times, drive sober, watch for pedestrians, drive distraction-free and obey speed limits.

“Every person that chooses to drive recklessly or impaired represents a serious threat to public safety,” said Duane Burgess, Johnson County sheriff. “Choices behind the wheel matter. One mistake is all it takes for someone to get injured. We’re asking all drivers to take responsibility and make smart decisions. Let’s work together to keep our roads and community safe.”

People should call 911 if they encounter an impaired or unsafe driver on the road.