JCPD observes progress with ‘A Safer 26 in ’24’ campaign

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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JOHNSON CITY – Monday, Feb. 26, marks the one-month milestone since Johnson City Police Chief Billy Church initiated a multi-jurisdictional effort aimed at enhancing traffic safety along Interstate 26. This initiative, dubbed ‘A Safer 26 in ’24,’ brought together the Johnson City Police Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and various state agencies and local law enforcement entities.

Chief Church emphasized the long-term nature of the campaign, stating, “Through this campaign, we want to change dangerous driving habits, and that will take time. That is why our efforts on I-26 will continue in the months to come. If you drive on I-26, you play a role in improving safety for yourself, for the people of northeast Tennessee and for its visitors.”

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According to reports from the Johnson City Police Department (JCPD), there has been a notable decrease in the number of crashes from January 26 through February 23, 2024, compared to the corresponding period in 2023. Specifically, officers responded to 26 crashes this year, down from 41 crashes reported last year.

During the first month of the campaign, JCPD officers conducted 434 traffic stops on I-26, a significant increase from the 185 stops recorded during the same period the previous year. Speeding remained the top traffic violation during both time frames. It’s important to highlight that not all traffic stops resulted in citations, as some drivers received verbal warnings regarding their violations.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) reported 219 traffic stops in Washington County / Johnson City related to ‘A Safer 26 in ’24’ from January 26 to February 25. This marked a substantial increase from the 44 stops made during the same period the previous year. Among the stops conducted this year, 142 resulted in citations, primarily for speeding.

THP Sgt. Matthew Blankenship acknowledged the positive changes in driving behaviors observed thus far, stating, “We are starting to see some drivers transform their driving habits. The changes are encouraging. However, for ‘A Safer 26 in ’24’ motorists need to obey the speed limit, keep plenty of space between their car and the one ahead, and drive without distractions every day – not just when they see law enforcement vehicles.”

Motorists should anticipate continued heightened traffic enforcement on I-26 as JCPD, THP,  and other local law enforcement agencies collaborate to enhance safety and save lives.