Citrus County roadways claimed nine lives in the past 30 days. This is not to be taken lightly, and I feel confident that the families who have lost loved ones do not think Citrus roads are safe. Law enforcement executives need to immediately respond to understanding the commonalities of this spike in traffic deaths. Selective Traffic Enforcement Programs (S.T.E.P.) and highway traffic crash mitigation require intelligence and data analysis. Selecting site locations, target violations for enforcement, and analyzing time of day/day of the week is key to reducing risk and reducing both the severity and frequency of crashes. Enlisting county and roadway engineers should be considered. Are there other environmental factors contributing to crashes?

STEP is conducted throughout the year and is a high-visibility ongoing strategy. Experienced law enforcement leaders do not use a random happenstance approach because it is not effective. Evidence of this lack of specific strategies is clear with the fatalities in the years 2017 (31), 2018 (37), and 2019(23). Patrol units remaining on one major highway when under construction may make one road safer but renders the remaining roads and motorists vulnerable. Communication and education are key to changing future driver behavior. An immediate strategy of using flashing board signs, temporary lighting of the dangerous intersections, and focused traffic enforcement operations in those areas would be an immediate response. Creative yellow flashing speed signs leading up to these intersections should be considered immediately. Inexperienced law enforcement leaders believe issuing a high number of random citations throughout the year will reduce crashes, injuries and deaths, however, this has proven to be ineffective throughout the country and certainly here in our hometown as well. Traffic safety is everyone’s responsibility but prudent and concerned leaders can make a difference.

Maj. Mel Eakley (ret.)