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Suffolk police extend enforcement program aimed at reckless, distracted driving until end of year

Acting Suffolk County Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron

Acting Suffolk County Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron Credit: Raychel Brightman

Suffolk County will continue increased traffic patrols on roadways through at least the end of the year in an effort to target aggressive, reckless and distracted driving, officials said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and acting Suffolk Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron announced Wednesday the extension of the bolstered Suffolk Intensified Traffic Enforcement Team to patrol major roadways such as the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway.

The bigger team was credited with issuing 2,000 moving and 349 nonmoving violation summonses as of Dec. 3 since the initial increase in patrols started Nov. 8, officials said.

Of those, 1,095 moving violations and 160 nonmoving violations were made by new members of the team, the department said. Comparatively, between Oct. 11 and Nov. 5, 1,021 moving and 209 nonmoving violations were given out by site team members before the expansion.

"Keeping our roadways safe is one of the primary functions of our department and one that I take very seriously," Cameron said in a statement. "The goal of this enhanced enforcement initiative is to address the handful of motorists who reduce the safety on our roads by driving aggressively or while distracted."

The team members have also been participating in a pilot program using a data-driven dashboard that shows officers where dangerous driving and crashes may be occurring. The analysis, which county officials said will be rolled out in all of Suffolk's seven police precincts in the coming months, will include types of crashes, locations and contributing factors.

"Reckless driving, whether it be speeding or distracted driving, has long plagued our roadways," Bellone said in a statement. "Over the last month, the enhanced SCPD SITE team has produced tremendous results, working to significantly improve safety on our roadways. By taking a data-driven approach, the department will be able to target areas of concern and further improve safety for our motorists."

In November, Cameron said county police see more crashes in the days after daylight saving time ends because people are "suddenly plunged into doing it in darkness, so it does take an adjustment."

In Suffolk, 113 people were killed in motor-vehicle-related accidents in 2020, the most in any county in New York State, according to a review of preliminary data from the Albany-based Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research. Queens County ranked second, with 84 vehicle-related fatalities and Nassau ranked third with 78.

Officials said the enforcement campaign will be evaluated at the end of the year.

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