PHOENIX - We are in the middle of the big Thanksgiving travel weekend, and AAA Arizona says nearly 850 thousand people in our state will hit the roads. At the same time, we are also in the middle of 'Operation No Need For Speed'.
The 30-day zero tolerance campaign requires DPS troopers to give tickets, not warnings.
We've seen this campaign many times, but is it working? DPS Director, Colonel Frank Milstead, talked with 12 News and said that it is working.
“I’ll tell you the top three ways you get involved in a collision or get yourself killed on an Arizona highway, number one is absolutely speeding and the other two are impaired and distracted driving,” said Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
For DPS troopers, working accident scenes where speed is the primary factor is difficult.
“It’s traumatic to see what happens to the human body, especially those that are not restrained, when you start bouncing around or you get shoved out of window, just that violence takes a toll on the men and women of law enforcement and our fire agencies,” Col. Milstead said.
We hear of tragedies every single year.
“Last Thanksgiving weekend, we lost three Arizonans to fatal driving collisions and they could have been prevented,” Col. Milstead said.
In an effort to change driving habits, you've probably noticed a larger police presence on major highways, unmarked police cars and also speed limits lowered by 10 miles per hour in some enforcement zones.
“We are just trying to get everyone to slow down a bit. We’ve done this over some past holiday weekends and we’ve seen great success," Col. Milstead said.
At first thought, you might think this is just a campaign to write more tickets.
“We are not in this to write citations and catch people doing something wrong. This is about reaching out to the public and asking for compliance so that the people that are the chronic offenders, we can focus on them,” said Col. Milstead.
Milstead said he is surprised by the amount of citations or lack thereof that authorities have handed out during this campaign.
“I actually thought that we would have more citations handed out, and the numbers that we’ve had so far is in the low 100s. With the number of commuters, I’d say that’s low, but again, I’m pleased by it," he said.
We still don’t have the total numbers for 2017, but as for this month, Col. Milstead says that 'Operation No Need For Speed' is working.
“Even my own friends are sending me text messages saying this is making a difference. People have actually slowed down and that is all we ask for," said Col. Milstead.
The Zero Tolerance campaign continues through the end of November.