When CHP Captain Andrea Witmer stood up recently to talk to the Bishop City Council, she revealed large downturns in accidents and a sharp upturn in speeding citations. Captain Witmer told Sierra Wave later that she and her officers have focused all year long on the three big violations – speed, seat belts and driving under the influence. Cell phone use while driving is not far behind.
Captain Witmer said compared to 2010, 2011 saw a 12% drop in fatal accidents, a 22% drop in total injury collisions and a 10% drop in total accidents. Bishop CHP officers also handed out 744 more speeding citations.
DUI cases went up 11% with 24 more arrests over the previous year. Seat belt citations jumped up 42% with 232 more citations. The Captain added that with the 7 fatal accidents in 2010, 5 of those people would have lived, she said, if they had worn a seat belt.
So, does all of this mean a change in enforcement strategies? Captain Witmer said she just makes it a habit to share how things are going with her officers and what to expect. Witmer said she believes highway experiences make the officers more aware of how to deal with violations.
Are there arrest or citation quotas? No, said Witmer. She said quotas are illegal.
Cell phone violations – manual use of a phone or texting while driving will loom large on the CHP radar this year. Last year, the State issued a report on the dangers of cell phone use while driving. Captain Witmer warns motorists that it only takes a split second not to see a pedestrian, cyclist or another car. “You have to ask yourself,” she said, “if you’re ready to go to jail for manslaughter.” A grim warning.
On a more upbeat note, the Captain invites local residents to bring their child safety seats to the Bishop headquarters to make sure they are correctly installed and to make sure they have not expired.