Traffic enforcement still ongoing, says Deputy Commish
Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Leseiau Laumoli said traffic enforcement is still ongoing — but only during normal working hours.
After-hour enforcements are usually conducted during the "Click it or Ticket" campaign and busy traffic seasons like the stretch between Christmas and New Year. Funding for after hour enforcement activities, according to Leseiau, comes from the DPS Office of Highway Safety which receives grant funding to carry out the program based on data submitted by OHS regarding fatalities, crashes, tickets, etc.
Samoa News also sought an update on the vehicle accident in Pava'ia'i that claimed the life of a young man last month. Leseiau said he is not at liberty to discuss anything, as an investigation is pending and the results of the autopsy are not yet available.
The accident in question resulted in the first traffic fatality in American Samoa this year; and Samoa News understands the driver of the vehicle was intoxicated and the victim was not wearing a seat belt.
American Samoa made national headlines two years ago when it became the only place in the US and its territories to close off 2011 without a single car accident related or pedestrian fatality. In 2012, there was only one car accident related fatality and one pedestrian fatality in the territory.
OHS’s mission is to keep the territory’s roads safe by promoting the use of seat belts, enforcing the Purchase Alcohol Enforcement Program, rallying for the use of car seats, and educating the public on the effects of driving under the influence.
Through media advertisements and outreach programs, OHS seems to be on the fast track in getting things done their way. According to the American Samoa Highway Safety Annual Report for Federal Fiscal Year 2012 submitted to the USDOT, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, OHS enforcement programs were successful, as seen in the reduction of the total number of car crashes and persons injured, and decrease in impaired driving arrests.
Leseiau said that while major enforcements are not being conducted every night of the year, they still urge the general public to remember the importance of buckling up and obeying the speed limits, in addition to not drinking and driving.
“Don’t just obey the law when you know cops are on the road conducting enforcement activities. You should practice it and do it every time for yourself and others on the road. These small things can mean the difference between life and death,” he said.
Preliminary highway safety data shows that in American Samoa, DUI arrests dropped by a whopping 53% from 316 in 2006 to 146 in 2012. In addition, the number of total alcohol related crashes decreased by 72% from 48 in 2006 to 13 in 2012. (An obvious proof of enforcement impact). Citations for speeding violations increased by 69% during regular duty hours, from 765 in 2010, to 1300 in 2012.
Last year, the total number of car crashes decreased by 36% from 686 in 2006 to 437 in 2012, while the number of serious injuries decreased by 95% from 83 in 2006 to only 4 in 2012. In addition, the number of persons injured during car crashes dropped from 159 in 2006 to 45 in 2012. Three people died in car crashes in 2006 and only one person died last year. One pedestrian was killed in 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2012, while no pedestrian deaths were recorded in 2008, 2009, and 2011.
There were 58 alcohol related injuries recorded in 2012. A total of 1,185 citations were issued for seatbelt violations last year and of that number, 614 of them were issued during grant-funded enforcement activities.
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