CPD to permanently patrol Highway 111
Cookeville Public Works employees, sign techs put up a sign on High-
way 111 aimed at warning drivers that they are entering an area where
speed limit laws are strictly enforced.Herald-Citizen PhotoCOOKEVILLE
-- The Cookeville Police Department started a daily campaign to stop traffic law violations on one of the city's busiest roads last week, and now, 311 tickets later, they say they are going to make it permanent.
"We have obtained permission from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to put up signs on Highway 111 through Cookeville saying that the speed limits are strictly enforced," Police Chief Bob Terry said.
"And we're going to stay with this campaign to make that highway safer."
Traffic Division Major Mark Maxwell said patrols from his division will be assigned to the area "every day until the violations stop."
The speed violation crackdown on Highway 111 through Cookeville began on March 28 and continues today.
It came about as a result of complaints from the public about vehicles whizzing through that area at dangerous speeds, and officers quickly found the complaints were justified as they worked patrols there during the busiest morning and afternoon hours in recent days.
They stopped vehicles going over 90 miles per hour and one motorcycle that was traveling at over 100 miles per hour. They ticketed drivers for various types of driving violations, but most tickets were for speeding.
On the first day, March 28, 42 tickets were issued, 57 the next day, 51 on the third day, and the rest since then as follows: 45, 31, 23, 34, 13, 7, 8.
Terry and Maxwell insist the campaign is "not about revenue," as Maxwell put it. Even though speeding ticket fines start at $150, the revenue aspect was never considered in the campaign, he said.
"The city is doing fine, they don't need revenue from something like this. This is about saving lives," Maxwell said.
"We've already tried everything to get people to slow down and obey the traffic laws -- we tried issuing warning tickets, we tried public education about the dangers, we've put up signs, we've placed patrol cars at certain places. But none of that has stopped people from flying through here at dangerous speeds, so we had no choice left but to start ticketing them."
And though some disgruntled drivers have complained that it is nothing but a "speed trap," both Terry and Maxwell take exception to that.
"It is not a speed trap," Maxwell said. "We'd like to be able to accomplish the same thing without issuing tickets, but nothing else has worked."
"We are not a ticket-happy department at all," Terry said. "We see the dangers out there and we've tried other ways to cut down on it, and now we are taking a more active approach."
Among the disgruntled drivers who got a ticket recently was a relative of Terry, he said.
"And he told me about it. It was for a violation of the Move Over law." That is a state law requiring drivers to move to another lane when passing places where emergency vehicles are engaged in roadside work.
"He said he was unable to get into another lane, but he got a ticket," Terry said. "And I told him there was nothing I could do except help him pay the ticket if he needed me to."
The campaign to make Highway 111 safer will continue, the chief said.A