New BNPD Logo Transparent with white glow MAR TXTStarting May 1st, the Benton Police Department will be conducting a traffic enforcement and education initiative, “Drive safely or your MAY get a ticket.”  The focus of this program will be conducting traffic enforcement in high traffic areas in conjunction with the Click or Ticket program going on. Additionally, we will be putting out informative press releases and social media postings to help educate people about safe driving practices.
One of the top things we’ve noticed is that distracted driving is a big problem. By distracted it can encompass the obvious culprits such as cell phones and the radio, but it can be any range of actions that lead you to take your eyes off of the road even briefly.  This includes, but isn’t limited to, putting make-up on, eating, or something as simple as changing the radio.  
Distracted driving can cause a wide range of unsafe conditions such as swerving in traffic lanes or not seeing obstacles in the way until it’s too late. One issue we see very often are rear-end collisions at yield signs when the vehicle behind the one yielding mistakenly thinks the other one has proceeded forward when in reality they haven’t, thus leading to an accident. It only takes another second to avoid these types of accidents from occurring, and will also save a lot of time and money in the long run.
Another issue we will be addressing is speeding enforcement, especially in areas with higher accident rates. Speeding has been demonstrated to be a contributing factor in almost 1/3 of all fatal car crashes in the US. This includes not just excessive speeding, but also driving too fast for road conditions. One common misconception is that if the speed limit is 45 MPH that you can still do that in a torrential downpour of rain and still be within the law. Actually, if the conditions are that unsafe then you should decrease your speed accordingly and also leave additional travel distance between vehicles.
One message we are trying to convey is that defensive driving is probably the best course of action to adopt when out on the roadways. By defensive driving we are referring to watching out for careless driving on the parts of other drivers in addition to taking actions such as leaving more travel distance between you and the car in front of you or yielding to others even when it’s questionable who has the right of way. Not only is defensive driving safer, it can help you save money by avoiding accidents altogether.
Another action you can take to protect you and your family is something that only takes an extra few seconds; buckle up. Seat belts save over 13,000 lives every year in the U.S. alone and is probably the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.
Nationally, from 2004 to 2008, seat belts saved over 75,000 lives, which is enough to fill a large professional sports arena. Out of the total number of fatality accidents that took place in 2010 in Arkansas, 59 percent of those killed in the accident were not wearing their seatbelt.
When it comes to juveniles and young adults the numbers are even worse. Of the fatality accidents in Arkansas involving young adults 16 to 20, 3 out of 4 were not wearing their seatbelts when the accident took place. Nationally, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young adults 16 to 20 years old.
During a crash, being buckled up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas being completely thrown out of a vehicle is almost always fatal. Seat belts are the best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers that you can take. If the national seat belt usage rate went up to 90 percent from the current 85 percent (2012) it would prevent an estimated 5,536 fatalities, 132,670 injuries and save the nation approximately $8.8 billion annually.
The added enforcement action is being taken with the goal of raising awareness about the dangers of breaking traffic laws and ultimately saving lives. We want to encourage people to slow down and arrive safely at their destinations, but if they don’t they very well MAY receive a ticket.  
The ultimate goal of this initiative is not to write more citations. Instead, we will hopefully be able to encourage everyone to drive safer and alter their driving mentality towards a defensive style. We hope that by taking an enforcement and education approach we’ll be able to reduce the number of accidents we see and that everyone can arrive safely to their destinations. Stay safe out there.
Source Information: www.nhtsa.gov, Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department