Sheriff’s office forms task force to help reduce number of vehicular collisions in Queen Creek

This map shows areas in Queen Creek where many collisions have resulted in injuries during the first quarter of 2015, according to Capt. Randy Brice of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The number of injury collisions in Queen Creek rose from 29 during January-March of 2014 to 57 during the same quarter in 2015, Capt. Brice said.  (Graphic courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

This map shows areas in Queen Creek where many collisions have resulted in injuries during the first quarter of 2015, according to Capt. Randy Brice of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The number of injury collisions in Queen Creek rose from 29 during January-March of 2014 to 57 during the same quarter in 2015, Capt. Brice said. (Graphic courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

This map shows areas in Queen Creek where the majority of non-injury collisions occurred during the first quarter of 2015, according to Capt. Randy Brice of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The number of collisions where injuries did not occur rose from 113 during January-March of 2014 to 182 during the same quarter in 2015, Capt. Brice said.  (Graphic courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

This map shows areas in Queen Creek where the majority of non-injury collisions occurred during the first quarter of 2015, according to Capt. Randy Brice of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The number of collisions where injuries did not occur rose from 113 during January-March of 2014 to 182 during the same quarter in 2015, Capt. Brice said. (Graphic courtesy of Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

When driving through Queen Creek, have you caught yourself coasting through a stop sign, switching lanes without using your signal or exceeding the speed limit, even just a little bit?
If you have, you’re not alone. These are just a few of the traffic violations that in 2015 have driven up the number of vehicular collisions within the town’s limits, Capt. Randy Brice, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s Queen Creek commander, said during a phone interview April 23.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has an annual contract with the town of Queen Creek to provide law enforcement services to the town of Queen Creek and the unincorporated areas surrounding the town, according to the town’s website.
Under the intergovernmental contract, sheriff’s deputies are assigned to patrol the Queen Creek community 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Detectives are assigned to conduct criminal investigations in the area, according to the website.
Part of the office’s duties are to compile traffic statistics. According to those stats for 2014, the average number of non-injury accidents per quarter was 113; the average number of accidents involving an injury per quarter was 29, Capt. Brice said.
However, those numbers have risen in 2015. During the first quarter of this year — January through March — there were 182 non-injury accidents and 57 injury accidents, Capt. Brice said.
To drive down those statistics, the sheriff’s office implemented a series of task force operations for intensified law enforcement and education efforts in the town of Queen Creek. The five-week program began April 12 and continues through May 17, Capt. Brice said.
Using specific data analysis, high-visibility law enforcement and directed patrol enforcement, the traffic safety task force is focusing on intersections, roadways and other areas within the community where there are significant traffic and safety challenges, according to a press release.
“Our overall goal is to reduce the number of collisions, and our interim goal is to reduce the number of injury collisions,” Capt. Brice said.
The target areas are Rittenhouse Road between Combs Road to the south and Germann Road to the north, and the Ellsworth Corridor from Riggs Road to the south up through the Ellsworth Loop and past Rittenhouse to Queen Creek Road to the north, he said.
The peak travel times vary but generally are 6-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. daily. The hours can extend up to 10 p.m. on weekends while people are traveling to and from their destinations, he said.
Drivers probably will not see the patrol cars parked along the side of the road observing traffic, Capt. Brice said.
“We don’t want to be the distraction that causes more back-ups,” he said. “Our goal is to change patterns to reduce the number of collisions.”
During its first week, the task force operated Tuesday-Saturday. Subsequent patrols will also operate five days a week but the days and times will vary from week to week, Capt. Brice said.
During that first week, the task force’s five deputies conducted 176 traffic stops and issued 154 citations and 22 warnings, Capt. Brice said.
In 2014, the deputies wrote on average 155 citations per month, he said.
“We are writing the number of citations in one week that we used to write in a month because we have deputies who are doing nothing but traffic enforcement,” he said.
Capt. Brice said he was surprised to learn that 70 percent of the citations were written to non-Queen Creek residents.
He said the top five traffic violations for which the tickets were written were: excessive speed; turning violations; following too closely; unsafe land usage, such as rapid lane changes and failing to using a traffic signal; and any type of red light or stop sign violation.
Neither the town nor the sheriff’s office receive money from the citation fees, Capt. Brice said.
The citations are sent to the San Tan Justice Court, which takes a portion for fees. The remainder of the money goes into the Maricopa County General Budget, he said.
The task force does not cost the town additional money over last year’s budget, Capt. Brice said during the interview.
The Queen Creek Town Council approved the sheriff’s office use of $70,000 in cost savings the office achieved in its 2014-15 contract with the town to pay overtime to the five deputies and one supervisor who comprise the task force.
At the end of the five-week program, the sheriff’s office will compile statistics to gauge whether the program was successful and to identify key trends in local traffic habits, Capt. Brice said.
To help reduce the number of traffic violations that could lead to a collision, Capt. Brice encourages drivers to follow 10 simple traffic safety tips. They are:
•Don’t drink and drive
•Obey all posted speed limits
•Minimize distractions
•Buckle up. Always wear one’s seatbelt
•Don’t follow too closely
•Stay alert
•Keep one’s emotions in check
•Use caution when changing lanes
•Keep one’s vehicle in safe condition
•Plan ahead and give oneself plenty of time to arrive at one’s destination
For more information, call MCSO Queen Creek Community Services at 602-876-5055 or e-mail mcso@queencreek.org.

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