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Ferris Traffic Safety Team steps up safety enforcement initiative

BIG RAPIDS - The Ferris State University Traffic Safety Team dedicated extra patrols recently for an intensive enforcement effort to ensure continued safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.

This is the second consecutive year state and local law enforcement agencies joined together for the community traffic safety initiative.

"This intense enforcement action brings our pedestrian safety initiative full circle," said Chief Martin J. Bledsoe of the Ferris Department of Public Safety. "Enforcement is the 'third E' in following engineering and education."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the goals of a pedestrian safety law enforcement program are to have citizens be aware of and comply with pedestrian laws, and to have police officers enforce the laws. NHTSA also reports that adjudication is necessary to correct and remediate pedestrian law violators.

Law enforcement officers began the day by attending a 45-minute synopsis of pedestrian laws and ordinances, and enforcement objectives for the campus. In attendance were law enforcement officers from the Michigan Department of State Police, Mecosta County Sheriff's Office, Big Rapids Department of Public Safety and Ferris Department of Public Safety. James A. Santilli Jr. of the Michigan Highway Traffic Safety Alliance was also in attendance and assisted with the briefing. Students and staff were put on notice of the enforcement effort by Santilli, even though not required by law.

According to Bledsoe, law enforcement officers conducted a total of 53 pedestrian safety stops resulting in a variety of warnings, instruction, and in some cases, citations to appear in the 77th District Court.

The FSUTST takes great pride in the effort to make the Ferris community a safer place to travel, Santilli said. In addition to dedicated patrols, the FSUTST is continuing the engineering and education initiatives.

Santilli, who also serves on the Governor's Traffic Safety Advisory Commissions' Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Team, said the latest Michigan Department of State Police crash data indicates that in 2004, there were 2,864 pedestrians and 2,246 bicyclists involved in Michigan motor vehicle crashes. "On average, one pedestrian was injured every 3 hours 39 minutes and one bicyclist was injured every 4 hours 53 minutes," Santilli said. "Nationally, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death ages 3 to 33."

Santilli reminds community members to "please remember to drive alert and sober, buckle up, slow down, and follow ALL pedestrian laws. A traffic crash can occur in mere seconds and change your life, and the lives of those who surround you, forever."