Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content RAMBLIN' MAN: Statewide campaign nets 500 drivers in Pikes Peak region

By Garrison Wells Published: May 3, 2014

It's hard to miss a Colorado State Patrol vehicle.

Silver, blue and black, with a light bar on top.

Often they are on the side of a highway, a noticeable presence.

And that's OK.

Slow down. Strap on your seat belt and drop the cell phone.

It's when they pull in behind you, lights flashing, that you can pretty much figure it's a bad day.

From April 25 though April 27 about 500 drivers in the Pikes Peak region had bad days.

The Colorado State Patrol's "Zero Tolerance, Zero Fatalities" program brought three days of, well, state troopers everywhere.

In all, there were about 700 troopers on Colorado highways that weekend, from the chief to the newest recruit with just three months on the force.

"We had every single uniform out on the roads," said Trooper Josh Lewis, spokesman for the state patrol.

"In the Springs, we extended it a little more. It was basically a high-visibility campaign."

The program kicked off at 6 p.m. April 25 for most parts of the state.

In the Colorado Springs area, where there were about 40 troopers on the roads, it started at 6 a.m. Friday.

It ended at midnight on Sunday.

It was a success in the Pikes Peak area, which includes El Paso and Teller counties, said Capt. Chuck Cargin of the state patrol's Colorado Springs office.

Nobody died. And crashes were down.

But there was plenty of action. The 500 tickets, for example, and 17 DUIs.

For three days, 17 DUIs is pretty high, Cargin said. And 150 tickets are written on average weekends.

Most of the tickets were for speeding, although tickets were also given to drivers who didn't get out of the way of emergency vehicles, Cargin said.

In Colorado Springs, the state patrol partnered with the city's traffic operations center, which posted messages on the digital board along highways.

There are some hotspots where motorists are likely to flout the law - mostly by speeding.

North of Colorado Springs on Interstate 25 drivers like to hit 80-85 mph, Cargin said.

Morning and afternoon rush hours and weekends are the most likely times.

On south I-25 between Colorado Springs and Pueblo they go faster, from 80 mph to as much as 100 mph because there is less development, he said.

U.S. 24 "is pretty good most of the time," Cargin said.

But with construction on a culvert at Williams Canyon, traffic has been hampered and there was a rash of complaints about speeders from Woodland Park to 31st Street.

On April 27, the state patrol pulled over 37 motorists on Highway 24 for failure to yield or speeding.

Thirty two of them got tickets.

Statewide, troopers have increased the number of citations for DUI arrests by 12.8 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the first quarter of 2013, according to the state patrol.

Speeding arrests have jumped 17.2 percent and seat belt violations were up 14.9 percent.

At the same time, the number of fatal crashes fell 25.5 percent.

Lest you think it's over, there's another enforcement period looming.

This one - which will focus on seat belt use - runs May 12 through May 25 nationwide.

There is an easy way to stay ahead of the state patrol and keep from piling up tickets.

Subscribe to the Tweet page.

It's here: twitter.com/CSP_CSprings

The Colorado Springs tweets are the second most subscribed to in Colorado, other than headquarters.

There's all kinds of good stuff.

Crash and weather alerts.

Photos of drivers getting pulled over and of crashes.

Sometimes the state patrol will warn you ahead of time about areas where they plan to increase patrols.

Said one tweet: "Another impaired driver arrested in Security Widefield Area. Drive sober or try on our bracelets."

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