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Posted on Tue, Jan. 14, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
Police chief reveals plan to reduce traffic deaths

Star-Telegram Dallas Bureau

Police Chief Terrell Bolton on Monday showed reporters his new "hammer": a stepped-up traffic safety plan aimed at reducing fatal vehicle accidents, which killed 169 people last year in Dallas.

The plan, designed by the the Police Department Traffic Unit, involves a more robust police presence, coupled with new deployment methods, on streets and freeways inside the city limits.

"I'm telling these officers to have zero tolerance," Bolton said during a news conference in the parking lot of Reunion Arena. "In the event that people don't comply, here's the hammer, and we're going to use the hammer."

For example, a group of patrol cars will drive in side-by-side formation through high-traffic areas, sort of like pace cars at a race track. They will be traveling at the posted speed limits, so any motorists passing them risk being stopped for traffic citations.

Bolton said the initiative was dubbed "SMART," an acronym that means: Secure all occupants with seatbelts; Monitor speed; Avoid distractions; Recognize hazards; and Take responsibility.

The SMART plan will use marked and unmarked patrols that will watch for motorists who break traffic laws or drive too aggressively, especially in school zones, where 33 children were injured last year.

"This is all being done with on-duty personnel," Sgt. Vince Aurentz said. "We're just refocusing our efforts."

Aurentz said police officials might decide to extend the yearlong initiative indefinitely. In the meantime, he said, they hope it will persuade motorists to buckle up and slow down.

"Most murders are crimes of passion," he said. "There's really not a whole lot we can do as police to stop them, but traffic fatalities are different.

"With national statistics, we can show that if you slow traffic down, you can reduce traffic accidents and fatalities."


Bill Miller, (972) 263-4448 wmiller@star-telegram.com
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