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Insight from WFPD: Police partner with school, business to promote traffic safety

The West Fargo Police Department has partnered with a local business and the West Fargo High School to deliver traffic safety information through the use of outdoor electronic signs.

The police department contacted the Town and Country Credit Union, 925 14th Ave. E., and asked them to participate in the traffic safety program. They agreed to display a message asking drivers not to drink and drive. Also displayed is the number of driving under the influence arrests made by the West Fargo Police Department in 2010. The sign will be updated on a weekly basis.

Driving under the influence is a serious problem. Of the 140 traffic fatalities last year in North Dakota, 55 involved the use of alcohol. The credit union was selected because of their location on 9th St. E., a major roadway in West Fargo.

At the school, the message "Buckle-up it's the Law" encourages the use of passenger restraints. Young drivers are involved in a disproportionate number of vehicle crashes. Statistics show the use of passenger restraints reduces the risk of injury. Recent seat belt counts rank West Fargo students at the top in North Dakota for the use of passenger restraints. The use of the message board coincides with a safety program already in place in the school.

The police department is looking for other ways to get out the message on traffic safety. The department has purchased driver feedback boards; a stationary radar display. The boards display vehicle speed as the vehicle passes by the sign's location. The system uses flashing lights to alert the driver when a vehicle is exceeding the posted limit. The boards are to be installed in the school zone on 9th St. E. at Cheney Middle School. Additional boards will be installed in other school zones as the department's budget allows.

Officers have conducted three periods of special enforcement activity focused on stop-light violations. Large signs were placed in the area warning drivers of the enforcement activity, and officers were stationed nearby to observe for violations. Sixteen citations were given out during the recent enforcement periods. Additional enforcement periods are scheduled for later.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides funding for safety campaigns and special enforcement periods. The grant dollars are administered by the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Local law enforcement agencies, like West Fargo, apply to receive the grant funding. As a condition of receiving the funding, the law enforcement agency must agree to perform activities that support traffic safety. The West Fargo Police Department has received funding to cover an officer's overtime pay and mileage to conduct seat belt, speed and driving under the influence enforcement. They also have received funding to cover the cost of purchasing in-car video systems and speed detection devices.