Highway 49 has always been a busy roadway in South Mississippi, and according to police, accidents there have increased substantially since last year. So Gulfport police have launched a new program - called Reckless and Aggressive Driving Enforcement or RADE. Their goal is to curb accidents.
Improper lane use and failure to wear a seatbelt are just two of the traffic viloations Sgt. Damon McDaniel and other members of the RADE squad are looking out for.
Members of the RADE patrol squad blend in with other traffic in their unmarked vehicles. This new method of patrolling appears to be effective.
"Today (Monday) is our first major day of operation, using the entire traffic divison. I must say, it's going pretty well. We've had a lot of traffic stops using both the unmarked and marked vehicles both north and south of the interstate," Sgt. McDanield said.
Patrols are concentrated along Highway 49 because of the increase of wrecks on the highway. This year, Gulfport police have investigated 1,835 wrecks. That's compared to 1,470 wrecks for the same period in 2005. Police hope the new RADE patrol program will help reduce the number of accidents in the city.
"Highway 49, like I said, has been leading the city of Gulfport in the number of crashes that have been happening. So we're starting off with Highway 49 from at least Polk Street all the way to the northern city limits," Sgt. McDaniel siad.
Sgt. McDaniel says he expects the RADE patrols to branch off to roadways to the east and west of Highway 90 sometime in the near future. In all, 219 tickets were issued Monday.
Police stress since RADE patrols are in unmarked vehicles, if you're pulled over at night, you should drive to a well-lit area and ask police officers for identification.