To keep people safe this holiday season, police in northcentral Pennsylvania began enforcing aggressive-driving laws.
"The goal is to go out here to be seen to defer crashes and death," said Chief William Solomon, of the Old Lycoming Township Police Department. "Hopefully everyone everywhere saw someone (patrolling),"
Along the Foy Avenue exit of Route 15, five Old Lycoming Township patrol cars lined the shoulder, waiting to hear from Corp. Morris M. Sponhouse II about drivers who sped past the Electronic Non-Radar Device (ENRADD) on Friday morning.
Old Lycoming Township Patrolman Jeffrey Hughes speaks with a motorist he pulled over on Route 15 near Foy Avenue.
The posted speed limit signs of 55 mph repeatedly flashed blue and red as they reflected the lights from the police cars.
"Motorists don't pay attention to the road," Sponhouse said.
Too often, they are more concerned with their cellphones or that they are running late for work, so they miss the ENRADD that was set up before the enforcement blitz began, he said.
Old Lycoming pulled over 16 cars in the two hours they were enforcing. The highest speed measured came from a car driving 95 mph in a 55 mph.
Rain usually deters or slows down drivers, said patrolman Jeffrey Hughes, who pulled over different people travelling at 67, 70 and 74 mph during Friday's patrol.
The most common excuse he hears is "I didn't realize I was going that fast."
Out-of-state drivers often say they did not realize what the speed limit was. Others say they were late for work.
On a dry and sunny morning, Hughes said it is not uncommon for five patrol cars to each pull over five cars in just a few hours. Two years ago was the most productive morning blitz he participated in with 90 cars pulled over in three hours.
Other agencies that participated in Lycoming County include the state police, Hughesville, Montoursville and Tiadaghton.
Towanda and state police based in the borough provided enforcement in Bradford County. Northumberland and Union counties also participated.
The enforcements will continue throughout the month.
There were 4,235 crashes and 49 fatalities in the state during the Thanksgiving holiday, including the weekend before and after the holiday. During the Christmas and New Year's travel periods, there nearly were 2,000 crashes and 19 fatalities.
To pay for the blitzes, the state Department of Transportation provided a grant.
Aggressive driving has been a focus for police departments for about five years, Sponhouse said.
Statewide statistics show crashes from aggressive driving have reduced. Even locally, the numbers has shown a decrease, he said.
Aggressive driving includes more than just speeding. Also taken into account are tailgating, running red lights and stop signs, making careless lane changes and passing in no-passing zones.
Pulling people over for excessive speed provides an opportunity to check other important items, like if they are buckled up and their headlights are on in hazardous weather.
It takes about ten minutes from pulling over a person to getting back on the road, Hughes said.
That includes asking and receiving for the proper paperwork, telling them why they've been pulled over, checking the seat belt and running their names and license plates if they cannot provide an identification card and registration. Conversing before and after takes about a minute or two. Most of the time comes from filling out the paperwork.
"Moreso than not, they're polite with us even if they think they're not traveling that speed," Hughes said.
In some cases, people will disagree about the speed or tell him they're going to plead not guilty and fight it in court.