The number of people killed in accidents on Nashville’s streets and highways increased nearly 15 percent last year despite the police department’s all-out war on traffic violators, reports the Tennessean. Stepped-up traffic enforcement was a cornerstone of Chief Ronal Serpas’ first-year agenda. He wants to reduce deaths and injuries by flooding the streets with more patrol officers and prosecuting motorists for even minor traffic infractions.
Officers made 73 percent more traffic stops and issued 55 percent more citations last year. But the number of people killed in accidents rose from 82 in 2003 to 94 last year. Kristy Skinner, who was in traffic court yesterday to pay a $20 ticket for a broken tail light, said, “I can understand if they wanted to aggressively go after reckless drivers, excessive speeders and, of course, drunk drivers, but this is silly.” Chief Serpas defends his plan. “These things take time,” he said. “Changing people’s behavior when they get behind a wheel takes time. So, no, I don’t think we’re off target at all. I think we’re doing fine.” One benefit of the policy change: Traffic revenue skyrocketed more than 30 percent to an estimated $5.2 million per year.