On Feb. 6, the West Virginia State Police held a press conference at Department Headquarters to discuss Highway Safety and the reduction of fatality rates during 2014. The following information was released to the media:
Similarly to other law enforcement agencies in West Virginia, the West Virginia State Police relies heavily on grants from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program in order to address highway safety concerns across the state. The funds available from these grants allow Troopers to work special patrols on their days off, during vacation time, before a regular shift begins or after a regular shift has ended. Typically, these patrols last between two and six hours. Each grant specifically defines the type of patrol to be conducted, whether it is Distracted Driving Enforcement, Work Zone Safety Enforcement, Seatbelt and Child Restraint Enforcement, or DUI Enforcement.
For the past couple years, the West Virginia State Police has taken a targeted approach in regards to special patrols. Our Traffic Section has reviewed areas of high DUI and fatality rates across the State and encouraged patrols to be conducted in those areas. Furthermore, we try to conduct these patrols on holidays, during peak traveling seasons, and during peak traveling hours, such as when motorists are commuting to and from work.
“The horrors associated with a fatal crash scene do not end immediately following impact of a vehicle, nor does it end following the subsequent clean-up of the roadway. In fact, it just begins for many, including those in law enforcement. Law Enforcement Officers have the task of notifying family members of the deceased. Can you imagine having to inform someone that their loved one has been killed and won’t be returning home? This is absolutely one of the most difficult tasks that Troopers perform,” said Lieutenant Michael Baylous.
In 2012, law enforcement agencies across the state reported 339 fatalities, in 318 fatal car crashes. In 2013, the number dropped slightly to 332 fatalities, in 305 fatal car crashes. In 2014, there was a significant reduction in both fatalities and fatal car crashes. There were 271 fatalities, in 240 fatal crashes. While there are many factors involved, clearly there seems to be a direct relationship between an increased police presence utilizing a targeted approach and a reduction in fatalities (Improved Highway Safety).
Additionally, 90 fugitives from justice were apprehended and 542 felony arrests were effected during these special patrols in 2014.
The West Virginia State Police would like to thank the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, the West Virginia Department of Transportation, and other law enforcement agencies throughout the state for their dedication to improving highway safety and contributing to the significant reduction of fatalities in 2014.