Vehicle crashes in Sullivan County dropped by more than 10 percent in 2006, but the number of injuries was up slightly, according to Lt. Joey Strickler, a public information officer for the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
The statistics only cover the rural areas of the county and exclude crashes that occurred inside the city limits of Bristol, Tenn., and Kingsport.
The numbers also exclude crashes in the county investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
"It is obvious that the efforts of the SCSO traffic safety program are working. The SCSO wrote fewer citations in 2006 and still reduced the number of automobile crashes," said Strickler.
The injury rate decreased from 2004 to 2005, but rose slightly in 2006.
The number of citations issued in 2005 more than doubled from 2004, but decreased slightly in 2006.
"The sheriff's office actively addresses traffic and speed enforcement. These efforts along with addressing safety issues show a positive decrease in the number of crashes from the previous years," Strickler said.
While a sheriff's office, which is an elected office, historically doesn't write many citations, that hasn't stopped Sheriff Wayne Anderson from instructing his deputies to write tickets.
SCSO Maj. Greg Simcox said the sheriff's office has committed to doing whatever is necessary to slow people down - even if it means writing tickets.
"We've set out to make the highways safer, and we're going to do what we have to do make them safer," he said.
"The sheriff has been pretty vocal about making it happen," Simcox said.
To do that, the sheriff's office had to get the equipment necessary, he said. They accomplished that through a grant that provided enough radar units for every patrol car.
Even with the increased number of citations written since 2004, Simcox said about 70 percent are warnings.
But if warnings don't work, deputies will write state citations that cost about $165 for speeding 10 mph over the posted limit.
Simcox said he hears complaints from those who receive tickets about it being a money racket for the sheriff's office, but he said the department doesn't get anything back from ticket revenue.
"If we write a paid citation it's a state citation, so it's not a revenue thing. The money doesn't come back to us," he said.
"Our only objective is to reduce the number of crashes and make our highways safer."
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