HPD: No Warnings, Excuses or Exemptions
by: Pat Hernandez, March 13, 2009 10:03:26 pm
The Fatality Crash Reduction Campaign was kicked off last March at a cemetery. It targeted the increase in traffic deaths caused by motorists drinking and driving. The next phase will target motorists who drink and get behind the wheel, who do not wear seat belts or fail to restrain their children, and aggressive drivers. Police Chief Harold Hurtt says the HPD will be using a variety of units, marked and unmarked, and red light cameras to deter dangerous driving.
"We'll be using both on-duty officers and overtime officers, and we're going to be working this program around the clock. So no, it won't be safe if you go to the bar and sit in the parking lot for an hour and say, 'well, I'm going to go home around three o'clock, the cops should be gone home'. We're going to be there."
Chief Hurtt says the department will be taking a zero-policy stand on seat belt and child safety seat violations. That means no warnings, excuses or exemptions.
"Aggressive drivers are also on notice. Officers are patrolling in unmarked cars. They will identify reckless drivers and when they do, they'll call ahead, and advise a motor or another marked unit to pull that vehicle over, and you'll be issued a citation. Reducing aggressive drivers enhances mobility, but most of all, it simply saves lives."
Brent Mayr is with the Harris County District Attorney's Office. He says for the first time in the history of the DA's office, they have a vehicular crime section with prosecutors that specialize in the types of cases that result in the traffic safety campaign.
"We want the message to get out. If you cause a death while driving recklessly with criminal negligence, you will be prosecuted. Individuals who cause the death of other individuals by reckless driving, are being charged with manslaughter, where they face up to twenty years in prison, they're being charged with criminally negligent homicide, where they face up to ten years in prison and a ten-thousand dollar fine."
Houston Police Assistant Chief Vicki King says there is no excuse for not keeping children buckled up.
"There is no more difficult scene for a police officer to work, than one in which a child is seriously injured or killed. A motor vehicle can do to the human body things that you never thought possible."
Recent data from the National Traffic Safety Administration finds that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people of every age.