‘A Safer 26 in ’24’ campaign shows promising results

Published 11:13 am Tuesday, June 4, 2024

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JOHNSON CITY — Launched by Johnson City Police Chief Billy Church on January 26, the multi-jurisdictional ‘A Safer 26 in ’24’ campaign is demonstrating significant results in promoting traffic safety on Interstate 26. The campaign, a collaborative effort involving the Johnson City Police Department (JCPD), Tennessee Highway Patrol, and other state and local law enforcement agencies, aims to increase patrols and enhance roadway safety.

“This campaign is a direct result of communication with the community,” said Chief Church. “Those served by the JCPD told us they wanted a safer interstate. We are working to provide that for drivers in Johnson City and across our region by increasing patrols and partnering with state and local agencies.”

In the first four months of the campaign (Jan. 26 – May 27), JCPD officers conducted nearly 1,600 traffic stops, a significant increase from 575 during the same period in 2023. Speeding was identified as the top offense.

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The heightened enforcement has also led to a rise in citations and warnings. From Jan. 26 through May 27, 2024, officers issued 600 written and verbal warnings, compared to 201 in the same period in 2023. Citations increased to 932, up by 606 from the previous year.

“When we make more traffic stops, officers will issue more tickets, but they’re also giving drivers some leniency by issuing more warnings,” explained Chief Church. “‘A Safer 26 in ’24’ is a campaign to make drivers aware, to change their bad habits, and save lives.”

The campaign has already yielded positive safety outcomes. From Jan. 26 through May 27, 2024, the JCPD reported one fatality on I-26, compared to three during the same period in 2023. Additionally, there were 108 crashes during the first four months of the campaign, down from 153 in the same timeframe in 2023.

“During this campaign, the number of deaths and the number of crashes on I-26 have declined. We are grateful for that,” said Chief Church. “The JCPD will continue enhanced traffic enforcement on I-26, but to make this campaign successful, we also need the help of motorists. That means following the speed limit, maintaining a safe distance between you and the driver ahead, keeping your eyes on the road and not a phone, and designating a driver if you plan to drink.”

The ‘A Safer 26 in ’24’ campaign underscores the importance of cooperative efforts between law enforcement and the community to ensure safer roadways for all.