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HERMITAGE State aims to cut traffic fatalities

By Harold Gwin

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Police Chief Ed Stanton said allowing local police departments to use radar is the only effective way to cut speeding.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- Four people are killed on Pennsylvania highways every day, and Tom Ridge, in one of his last official acts as governor, made an effort to reduce that number.
He declared today "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day," encouraging motorists across the country to drive especially careful.
There is a national effort under way to avoid all traffic fatalities today. Nationally, one person is killed in a traffic accident every 13 minutes.
Hermitage police, Rural/Metro Ambulance, Mercer County Coroner J. Bradley McGonigle and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation employees gathered in front of the Hermitage city building Tuesday to emphasize the governor's message.
McGonigle, who brought a hearse to the scene, said that, as coroner, he sees the aftermath of traffic deaths.
"We want to see if we can go one day [nationwide] without having a fatality," he said, urging people to drive defensively, use seat belts and child safety seats and avoid drinking and driving.
Phil Steele, market general manager for Rural/Metro, had two ambulances at the city building.
His crews are called on to help those hurt in traffic accidents and those injuries are some of the most severe paramedics have to deal with, Steele said.
If participating in the campaign can prevent just one of those injuries, "We've done our mission," he said.
What was planned: Police Chief Ed Stanton said his officers will be doing some special enforcement today along problem roads where speeding is most often reported, such as the Shenango Valley Freeway.
He said he believes that tougher enforcement of speeding laws would go a long way to reducing the number of fatal crashes and said allowing local police departments to use radar to track speeders would be the way to do it.
The Pennsylvania Legislature has historically been reluctant to allow the use of radar by other than the state police, fearing that local departments will turn their communities into speed traps bent on enhancing the municipal treasury.