AMHERST, Mass. - If you have a tendency to drive with a lead foot, or think you’ll have one more drink "for the road," stay away from the UMass campus, warns UMass Director of Public Safety and Police Chief John W. Luippold, Jr. The police will be enforcing traffic rules tightly with additional patrols as the semester begins. The concentrated enforcement campaign is funded with a $2,000 grant from the Safe Roads Program, in addition to matching funds from the University. Safe Roads is funded by the Mass. Governor’s Highway Safety Bureau, and is supported by the Hampshire Council of Governments.
"Speeding, failure to use seat belts, and drunk driving remain the leading cause of deaths and injuries to motorists," said Jim Lyons, associate to the director of public safety at UMass. "If someone’s out there drinking and driving, chances are good that we’re going to stop them and arrest them."
Patrols will focus particularly on:
* Speeding – The maximum campus speed limit is 30 mph on major thoroughfares such as Commonwealth Drive and Massachusetts Avenue. Speed limits are lower on secondary roadways. Radar patrols will be stationed around campus.
* Operating Under the Influence – The legal blood-alcohol limit is .08. Officers will administer field sobriety tests and Breathalyzer tests when appropriate.
* Seat Belt Usage – Massachusetts state law requires the use of seat belts. In general, seat belt usage among college-aged people is lower than 50 percent. Police may issue tickets to drivers stopped for a separate violation.
In addition to issuing tickets and making OUI arrests when appropriate, police will also distribute educational materials to drivers, and have officers working specifically on traffic enforcement. Later in the semester, police will be using the "Speed Board," which shows drivers their speed.
"It’s important to encourage everyone to develop safe driving habits, right from the start of the academic year," said Lyons. "For that reason, the University Police will increase patrol levels and concentrate educational and crime prevention efforts during September. Strict enforcement isn’t about the police writing a ticket to ruin someone’s day; it’s about keeping the campus safe and reducing the chance that someone’s going to get seriously injured or killed in a motor-vehicle crash or pedestrian accident."
NOTE: UMass Police will issue updates on the enforcement campaign. For further information contact Jim Lyons at 413/545-2125.