City beefing up traffic enforcement this week

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:49 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Columbia Police Department will have extra traffic officers looking for dangerous drivers on Columbia’s busiest roads this week.

“The month of May is a high-fatality month yearly throughout the state,” said Columbia police Sgt. Tim Moriarity, who heads the department’s traffic unit. “In 2003, we had eight people die in the month of May in traffic crashes.”

Extra officers will patrol busy, four-lane roads such as Providence Road, Stadium Boulevard, U.S. 63 and Interstate 70. In addition to targeting violations like speeding and running red lights, the officers will be on the lookout for drivers who do not slow down and move over when approaching emergency vehicles parked at the side of the road. Moriarity said that although few Columbia police officers have been hit by cars during traffic stops, it has been a problem throughout the state.

The enforcement was funded through grants from the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The department will also begin enforcing a statewide program to increase seatbelt use, called “Click it or ticket,” aimed at reducing fatal accidents.

“In most fatality accidents, the occupants were not wearing seatbelts,” Moriarity said. “You always wonder if they would still be with us today if they had been.”

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