SUWANEE - A traffic enforcement program in Suwanee did exactly what it was designed to do: The number of accidents and injuries along one of the city's most heavily traveled roadways was reduced.
Police officers handed out more traffic citations - 72 percent more from Dec. 13 to Jan. 31 than the year before - but the number of tickets decreased as more people became aware of the city's efforts to reduce aggressive driving, Suwanee Police Chief Michael Jones said.
Although the number of motorists traveling through Suwanee increased, officers also saw six fewer accident-related injuries this year than during the same time last year, Jones said.
"I think we've done something to make the community safer," Jones said.
The department wrote 1,332 citations from Dec. 13 to Jan. 31, compared to 774 the year before. There were 86 accidents this year compared to 94 last year, and there were 14 accident-related injuries this year compared to 20 last year.
The Suwanee Police Department noticed an increase in speed-related crashes before the traffic enforcement program began. After the October deaths of three teenagers who were riding together in one car, Jones said he knew the Police Department "had to do something to stop the escalation of accidents."
Suwanee police officers began targeting motorists who were speeding, following other vehicles too closely or changing lanes without signaling on Lawrenceville-Suwanee and Suwanee Dam roads. The department picked that road because more than half of vehicular crashes in the city happened on Lawrenceville-Suwanee.
The department called the program Suwanee CARES, or Suwanee Corridor 317 Accident Reduction and Enforcement Strategy.
"The purpose was to reduce the number of accidents, particularly the number of accidents involving injuries and fatalities," Jones said. "Unfortunately, some people got citations ... (but) it was not our goal to bring in revenue."
While Suwanee CARES has ended, Jones said the department will continue to reduce accidents in the city. The department will analyze data to identify high-accident areas in the city, and traffic patrols will be increased accordingly, he said.