Sheriff's Departments recognized for highway safety

By Justin Hanson - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

COVINGTON, TN (WMC-TV) - A couple of West Tennessee counties recently ranked number one in the country for their traffic safety initiatives.

For the past year, deputies in Tipton and Fayette counties have been watching travelers with a vigilant eye.

"We try to key on DUI's, alcohol enforcement, try to get DUI's off roadway...underage drinking," said Lt. Shannon Beasley with the Tipton County Sheriff's Department.

"Our main thing we've seen over the years is speed and your drinking and driving," said Fayette County Sheriff Bobby Riles.

Thanks to the seat belt initiative Click It or Ticket, child safety seat checks, and traffic roadblocks and saturations, West Tennessee roadways are safer.

"We've got to save lives," Tipton County Sheriff Pancho Chumley said. "We've got to slow people down and reduce the number of accidents and making Tipton Countians safer. That's what its all about."

In Tipton County, more DUI roadblocks in 2009 have led to a 77 percent increase in DUI arrests and a four percent decrease in crashes.

Tipton County ranks 68th worst in the state in alcohol related crashes.  Deputies netted 884 DUI arrests between 2005 and 2007, and had 21 alcohol related fatalities from 2001 to 2005.

Fayette County deputies have a DUI certified officer on every shift to keep drunk drivers off the roads.  Fayette County Sheriff's Bobby Riles says he's oftentimes surprised what he sees.

"We've made a couple of DUI arrests of people who thought they were in Germantown," Sheriff Riles continues.

Fayette County ranks eighth worth in the state in alcohol related crashes.  DUI arrests have gone up!  There were 148 arrests from 2003 to 2006.  In 2007, there were 271 arrests.

And thanks to hard work, fatal accidents are becoming few and far between.

Law enforcement officers in Middleton, Union City, Lauderdale County, Hardin county, and Shelby County also placed in the top three in this national law enforcement challenge.

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