Frederick County Sheriff’s Office New Driving Safety Initiative “Arrive Alive”
11 May 2017 News
Spring, thus far, has been a dangerous time on Frederick County roadways. The area has witnessed a sharp increase in traffic crashes, injuries and deaths over the past six weeks. Between April 1 and May 9, there have been forty-five reportable crashes filed by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office according to the Virginia DMV “TREDS” crash reporting database compared to thirty-two for the same time period in 2016. There have been an additional sixty-seven reportable crashes handled by the Virginia State Police during this same time period. These crashes range in property damage with a total of seventy-three, to those with minor or serious injury at a total of thirty-six, and fatal crashes of three.
This is an average of almost three reportable crashes per day occurring on Frederick County roadways and does not take into account any of those incidents that do not meet the criteria of a reportable crash to DMV, such as those having less than $1,500 worth of damage, no personal injury / death or any that have occurred on private property. Out of the 112 reportable crashes, there have been fifty-six people injured and four people have lost their lives as a result of traumatic injury sustained in the crash. The three fatal crashes have taken place within a nineteen day period between April 18 and May 6, including two separate crashes on the same day and one crash that claimed two lives. It should also be noted that these crashes have occurred on three different types of roadways to include: an interstate highway, a four-lane state route and a two-lane secondary road.
Beginning Monday May 15 and continuing throughout the summer the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting its ongoing driving safety initiative “Arrive Alive“. This program will focus on having deputies actively monitoring and patrolling all county roadways aggressively enforcing all traffic safety laws with an emphasis on:
- Speeding / Reckless Driving
- Impaired Driving (Alcohol / Drugs)
- Distracted Driving
- Aggressive Driving
- Seat Belt Use
“Arrive Alive is the sheriff’s office goal stated in its simplest form,” said Lieutenant Warren Gosnell of the agency’s Traffic Division. “With so many folks traveling to and through Frederick County on a daily basis, it can be challenging to have our people in the right place at the right time. We border four West Virginia counties, three of which are on primary state routes including routes 11 North, 522 North and 50 West as well as the twenty-four mile stretch of Interstate 81 that we help monitor with the Virginia State Police as needed.” Gosnell continued, “We see heavy commuter traffic during the work week along with a high volume of tourist traffic visiting the historic Shenandoah Valley or passing through to other popular areas such as Washington, DC, New York and Florida. We are simply asking motorists in Frederick County, to obey traffic laws and to be courteous to one another with the ultimate goal of everyone getting to their destination safely.”
Gosnell informs that, during this initiative, extra personnel will be patrolling county roadways with the assistance of a federally funded DMV traffic safety grant. Deputies will be setting up stationary and moving radar during peak traffic periods and in problem areas or subdivisions. There will also be roaming patrols in the late evenings and overnights for impaired drivers along with scheduled sobriety checkpoints. “We are going to make a visible presence to let the public know we are here doing our jobs” said Gosnell, adding “but we will also look to set up inconspicuously in some areas, including the use of unmarked police cruisers and SUVs, to observe and take action with those that disregard speed limits, traffic lights or drive aggressively when they think the police are not around.”
As always, with the return of warmer weather, travel-heavy holidays, schools letting out and summer vacations taking place, there are several seasonal factors to keep in mind. “We will only see more of an increase out here as the weather gets warmer with motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians” added Major Steve Hawkins, Chief Deputy for the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, concluding “our people will continue to step up and get the job done.”
The agency will also participate in the national Click it or Ticket campaign May 22 – June 4 with checkpoints, roaming patrols and a “Border-to-Border” event on the evening of Monday May 22 between 4:00pm – 8:00pm in conjunction with West Virginia law enforcement agencies from Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson counties.
“You have a responsibility for yourself and to those driving around you and if you can’t do that, then that’s when we have to step in.” said Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland. “if we save just one life, to me, it’s all worth it.” Millholland concluded.
Below are the statistics taken from the DMV TREDS website and database showing crash statistics for Frederick County during the period of April 1 – May 9:
FATAL CRASHES 1
PERSONS KILLED 1
INJURY CRASHES 31
PERSONS INJURED 41
PROP DAMAGE 76
FATAL CRASHES 3
PERSONS KILLED 4
INJURY CRASHES 36
PERSONS INJURED 56
PROP DAMAGE 73
Gosnell concluded, “Sometimes we have hard choices to make in our lives… driving safely and properly shouldn’t be one of them. I agree with Sheriff Millholland, if we can save just one life, if we can spare just one family the pain of losing a loved one, if we can help you arrive alive then it’s all worth it.”