Police urge caution on roadways during Labor Day weekend

As the summer’s final holiday weekend approaches police are stepping up traffic safety enforcement in an effort to reduce the number of deaths on the state’s roadways.

Police departments across the county will target aggressive driving behavior like running red lights, speeding, and tailgating as part of the Pennsylvania Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project. Police have also been conducting increased DUI-related enforcement efforts over the last week and will continue until after the Labor Day weekend.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced the extra efforts on Thursday and said aggressive driving behavior is among the leading factors in crashes and deaths on the state’s roads.

“We’ve all seen people drive irresponsibly on the roads. Police will be out in force to make sure those reckless drivers are held accountable. Law enforcement works day and night to keep the roads of Chester County safe,” Hogan said.


Members of the Coatesville, Kennett Township, Tredyffrin Township, West Chester, West Goshen, West Whiteland, and Westtown-East Goshen police departments will participate in the program.

“Our department appreciates the opportunity to take part in the aggressive driving enforcement details. Having additional officers on the street concentrating on speeding, tailgating, and other unsafe behaviors is valuable. The program enhances our ability to educate, increases vehicular and pedestrian safety, and reduces the potential of injuries,” said Coatesville Police Department Sgt. Rodger Ollis.

The locations of the extra efforts were determined after each agency involved examined local crash and citation data. Law enforcement officials said each department identified a specific problem that affects their area and will target those problems by increasing enforcement efforts in the areas that crashes most often take place.

“Police will be looking for anyone who is speeding, tailgating or exhibiting any type of aggressive driving. Officers will be stopping and citing motorists for this type of driving behavior,” said West Goshen Police Department Sgt. Justin DiMedio, who also heads the Chester County Impaired Driving Program, a county police task force that conducts sobriety checkpoints throughout the year.

The DUI task force has been conducting extra efforts since Aug. 22 as part of a National Labor Day Crackdown program conducted in cooperation with the Pennsylvania State Police. The task force has already conducted at least one checkpoint during the period. That took place last Friday in Avondale, and other checkpoints and roving patrols are expected to take place over the holiday weekend.

Police officials said PennDOT shows the total of alcohol related crashes are actually trending downward in Pennsylvania, crediting the progress to a sharp increase in education and enforcement efforts over the last decade. The news is not all good, though, as the number of drug-related crashes is increasing each year.

In 2012, 404 people died in 11,956 alcohol related crashes in Pennsylvania, a slight decrease from 428 in 2011. Meanwhile, there were 306 drug-related crashes in Pennsylvania that year,

About 30 percent of all DUI arrests are now drug related, police said. Of the 50,464 DUI arrests in the state in 2012, 14,953 of them were for what police called “drugged driving.” That number was up from 13,907 the year before, and police attributed the additional arrests to the presence of more certified Drug Recognition Experts, or DREs, in the field.

Law enforcement and county officials urged people to exercise caution during the upcoming holiday weekend.

“As we kick off the Labor Day Weekend please remember to drive safely and give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Our goal is to save lives and reduce crashes, so we are putting drivers on alert. Expect to be stopped and expect a ticket if you’re driving aggressively,” said Lori Aguilera, the director of the Chester County Highway Safety Project.

Follow Daily Local News staff writer Michael N. Price on Twitter @MikePriceWrites and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/michaelnprice.