CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston Police Department has doubled its Traffic Enforcement Division because of the increasing number of traffic deaths in the city.
That means there are more officers on the road keeping an eye out for traffic violations.
Last year, there were 17 traffic deaths in the City of Charleston. So far this year there’s been 13 including one last weekend.
“I think keeping people accountable to what they’re doing on the road is a good thing,” said Colt Frye who lives in West Ashley. “I have my daughter on the road all the time with me these days. Anything that’s going to keep us safer on the roads, I’m all for.”
The Commander of Charleston’s Traffic Enforcement Unit, Lt. Wojslawowicz, says the death of an 11-year-old tourist to a driver under the influence this summer led to a new sense of urgency for traffic enforcement in the city.
“Any death is one death too many because every single fatality could be prevented,” Wojslawowicz said.
There were eight officers on the road that focused solely on traffic, as of October of this year there are 18.
The police department receives traffic complaints from neighborhoods all the time.
“Now that we have a much more robust unit, we are able to get there pretty much right when the complaint comes in, focus on it, determine if there actually is an issue and decide a game plan to figure out what we can do to solve the issue,” Wojslawowicz said.
Septima Clark Parkway, known as the Crosstown, is among one of the most problematic areas as people drive from the interstate into downtown Charleston.
“We live off of part of Sam Rittenburg. It can be a sketchy area, people running red lights and speeding,” Frye said. “So I think it’s a good thing if they’re helping to keep that in check.”
Right now, there two officers on the DUI Taskforce that will patrol near areas where alcohol is served.
The department is looking to expand the taskforce with time.
“It’s a plea to the public to drive safer, our goal is roadway safety,” Wojslawowicz said. “Our goal isn’t necessarily to go out there and write tickets. We hate having to write tickets. It’s simply a means to an end and that end is safer roadways.”
The Charleston Police Department was granted a renewal of a traffic safety grant.
The grant is through the South Carolina Department of Public Safety and provides $154,000 for the salaries of two traffic enforcement officers that focus on collision reduction and speed enforcement.
This year the the total number of collisions in the city are down by 9.7 percent from last year.
Prior to that, the city reported a five to seven percent increase year to year.