Nassau police plan to step up enforcement on county roads through the end of August — the most dangerous month nationwide for motor vehicle crashes and fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Last year, there were 29,664 vehicular crashes and 74 fatalities on the roads in Nassau County, the majority from reckless driving, including motorists driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, texting or speeding, according to County Executive Laura Curran.
Police department data shows there were nine deadly crashes in July of last year, 12 in August, and 11 in September.
Thus far this year, there have been 15,833 crashes and 22 deaths, although those numbers are likely to peak in the coming weeks and months, Curran said at a news conference Wednesday on the southbound ramp of the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway in Syosset.
"Through a combination of increased awareness, stepped-up enforcement and people really being on the lookout, we can absolutely save lives," Curran said. "Mistakes on the road can turn deadly in a heartbeat."
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said officers will patrol high-traffic locations, including the Long Island Expressway and its eastbound and westbound service roads, and Route 878, also known as the Nassau Expressway.
Police, he said, will check motorists for seat belts and speeding, as well as signs of distracted, drunken or impaired driving. Car crashes, he said, are the No. 1 killer of young people ages 16 to 19 in Nassau.
"We will be out there on the roads with a zero tolerance and the enforcement will be in place," said Ryder, adding that distracted driving accounts for about 80% of all crashes in Nassau.
Traffic crashes, Curran said, increase in the summer as more motorists hit the road for vacations, and young and inexperienced drivers return home from school and attend parties and other events involving alcohol.
"More than half of drunk driver deaths are people under the age of 34," she said, encouraging motorists to be on the lookout for impaired or distracted drivers. "These are preventable deaths of young people."