Police at UMass Amherst on the Lookout for Speeders, Drunk Drivers During Street Safety Campaign

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts police officers are cracking down on speeders, and additional patrols are targeting drunk drivers as part of a Street Safety campaign during the month of April.

Two pieces of equipment borrowed from the Hampshire County Safe Roads program will assist police in their efforts: a speed monitor/visual radar display and a preliminary breath test unit, or PBT, a new device designed to measure how much alcohol a driver has consumed.

Police will demonstrate both the speed monitor and the PBT Wed. April 15 at 1 p.m. on Commonwealth Ave. across from the Mullins Center. The campus community, the public, and the press are invited.

"We want to educate people and increase their awareness of the traffic laws," says Barbara O’Connor, deputy police chief at UMass. "In the process, we’ll hopefully make the roadways on campus safer for both drivers and pedestrians."

O’Connor says the week of April 20-24 has been designated Drive Safely at Work Week by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of workplace deaths and injury nationwide, she says.

While the purpose of the month-long safety campaign at UMass is education and awareness, O’Connor emphasizes that traffic citations will be issued for violations, and arrests made for drunk driving.

The speed monitor electronically displays the speed of an approaching vehicle on a large screen stationed at the side of the road. UMass police will target speeding on campus roads throughout the month by using the monitor at various locations. Pedestrian safety in crosswalks will also be strictly enforced during the safety campaign.

The PBT is a hand-held device which measures blood alcohol concentration when a subject blows into it. These units are used by officers after standard field sobriety tests to confirm previously established probable cause.

Funding for the purchase of the speed monitor and the PBT was provided to the Safe Roads Program by the Governor’s Highway Safety Bureau.