06302010redlight.jpgThe Cumberland County crackdown on red light and stop sign violators has proven very successful. Congratulations. But why stop now?

Enforcing our laws against this very dangerous and epidemic problem in our community should be the highest priority. Sure, the two week crackdown was successful in terms of netting 262 tickets issued, however, this served to accentuate the seriousness of the problem. Unfortunately, in broadcasting the success of the crackdown we may have also telegraphed (unintentionally) to thousands of irresponsible vehicle operators that we do not intend to pay much attention to these violations in the future.

Matter of fact, the Fayetteville Observer reported in last Saturday’s newspaper, front page below the fold, that Cumberland County spokeswoman Debbie Tanna said, “Hopefully, we can make this an annual campaign.”

What? Hopefully? Annual campaign? Hmmmm? Does this mean we are assuming in Fayetteville and Cumberland County that these violators and perpetrators of death, carnage and property damage will be on holiday during the next 50 weeks?

I hope this doesn’t mean that our law enforcement officials have checked this box off on their annual “to do” list and now are moving on to other tasks. This may not be the intent, however, in tough economic times Cumberland County residents (aka taxpayers) are looking for not only good common sense but good value, as well. Doing anything just “one time” is not going to affect or change any situation or habit. Even a child knows when a parent isn’t serious about a rule or command (i.e., you are 200 miles away from home on vacation with the family when you say: “If you kids don’t behave I’ll turn this car around and we’ll all go home.”).

Go home? Yeah, right! No validity here.

Catching traffic violators for only two weeks during the year will have the same impact. Especially in a diverse and transient community like ours that sees a turnover in our population on a weekly basis.

Our law enforcement officials need to start enforcing these traffic laws on a consistent basis, prosecuting violators and establishing our community as one that puts a high value on human lives and public safety and these laws demand respect and adherence. Enforcement should be our highest priority and can only be accomplished through repetition and consistency. In the long run it would reduce our law-enforcement costs.

Other towns accomplish this.

When traveling to Tampa, Fla., on Hwy. 301 South, east of Jacksonville, Fla., I travel through the small towns of Lawtey, Waldo and Starke before I get to Gainesville, Fla. All have a stellar reputation for being extremely serious about traffic laws and public safety and have zero tolerance for violators. I have never seen an accident in these area, but what I always see is a constant flow of traffic obeying the speed limit and law-enforcement vehicles in strategic and highly visible locations — usually with blue lights flashing.

They are serious about their traffic laws. I have since found out that all three towns have a statewide reputation for compliance. Not a bad thing.

I know there are a lot of important issues we could be writing about in this space. However, in my opinion, none are more important than this issue. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Scary. Violation of red lights and stop signs is epidemic in Cumberland County and it needs to be addressed and it needs to be stopped. I am glad all the major law-enforcement agencies cooperated and participated in this exercise. We can only hope this crackdown becomes routine so we too can begin to develop a reputation for being a community of safe streets and thoroughfares and one that respects the law. Of course, we appreciate the men and women who have dedicated their careers and lives to law enforcement and making our community a safe place to live, work and play.

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