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El Paso County deputies to start increased traffic enforcement Wednesday

Effort to last two months from May 1 to July 1

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Being the Colorado county with the most traffic deaths for two years in a row has led the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to ramp up traffic enforcement.

Deputies will begin the effort on May 1 and continue through July 1, focusing on areas with high numbers of traffic violations and complaints by drivers, according to public safety data.

There were 81 traffic deaths in El Paso County last year and 77 in 2017.

The county also is reinstating its traffic enforcement unit that was disbanded in 2015.

The Sheriff's Office announced the increased enforcement Tuesday.

"Increased enforcement can have a direct and proportional benefit in increasing traffic safety," said Sgt. Cliff Porter, who will lead the unit.  "We'll have at least six deputies devoted to it full time, even after the increased enforcement period.  We don't want to be out there writing you a ticket.  What we want to do is be out there bored because you're driving past us at the speed limit."

Porter said the Sheriff's Office will post in advance on its website, the areas that will be targeted for enforcement so that drivers aren't caught by surprise.

"An example of one area is South Academy Boulevard west of I-25," he said.  "Our data shows that 85% of the traffic is driving between 15 and 17 miles above the speed limit.  That directly corresponds with how many fatal crashes have happened there."

On Tuesday, deputies pulled several drivers over, apparently for speeding, along Black Forest Road.

Porter said the Sheriff's Office will partner with local police departments, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol during the two-month enforcement.

In determining which areas to target for enforcement, Porter said deputies will rely on which areas have received the most citizen complaints of unsafe driving, and use data gathered by "smart trailers" -- devices that display a passing driver's speed and record other traffic information.

When the period ends, officials will assess the enforcement to determine its effectiveness.

The number of traffic deaths in the county was unavailable late Tuesday, but last weekend a motorcycle rider was killed in a crash with an SUV near the intersection of Marksheffel and Drennan roads.  Authorities said speed and alcohol were factors in the accident.

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