Emphasis patrol nabs SR-16 speeders

"A special patrol by the Bremerton-Kitsap County Traffic Safety Task Force Friday afternoon caught more than 40 people exceeding the speed limit on Hwy. 16 near the Sedgwick Road intersection, where Bremerton teen-ager Joshua Ahart recently died as the result of excessive speed.The patrol, carried out on the ground and in the air by several law enforcement agencies, had been planned before the tragic July 30 accident in which Ahart was thrown from his vehicle after racing with another motorist. Conducted once or twice a month in different locations, the patrol on Friday drew more than a dozen participants from the Washington State Patrol, Kitsap County Sheriff's Office and the Bainbridge Police Department. A plane flown by State Patrol officers spotted and timed westbound cars as they approached the Sedgwick Road intersection, and descriptions of speeding vehicles were radioed to patrol cars lined up on the shoulder of the westbound Hwy. 16 on-ramp.As vehicle after vehicle was pulled over, one thing became clear -speeding is a way of life for many who drive on the state's highways and roads. As he waited his turn to swoop down on unsuspecting speeders, State Patrol Trooper Steve Gardner mused on the dangers presented by people who drive too fast.There seems to be a lot more risk-taking activity than before, the four-and-a-half-year veteran said. The State Patrol and other agencies are looking to get a hold on it before it gets out of control. We don't need any more senseless deaths.This particular patrol, one of what the task force calls emphasis patrols, focused on speeding. Plenty of that was found Friday over a two-hour period beginning a little after noon. Forty-three people were stopped in the 60-mph zone, with speeds ranging from 64 mph all the way up to 87 mph. Many drivers were given citations for speeding, which along with the accompanying $114 fine may give them pause before they put pedal to the medal the next time.Later in the evening, the emphasis patrol stopped 115 people for speeding at the Hwy. 3 intersection with Trigger Avenue, located near Silverdale. Most people don't know they're speeding as fast as they are, Gardner said, adding that the State Patrol's major focus is aggressive driving, which is characterized by weaving in and out, frequent lane changes and other behavior that causes accidents.It helps us out by getting them to slow down. It accomplishes what we wanted.After his first stop, a man in a red SUV who was driving 71 mph, Gardner said racing is not always a situation where you have two vehicles side by side, but one in which drivers tail each other at high speed. Racing can be a comparison of speeds, he said. It's pretty tough to be in the right place at the right time to catch somebody 'racing.' Before the weather turned bad and the State Patrol plane had to turn back, Gardner made several more stops, including that of a grandmother driving 70 mph. Her daughter and three grandchildren were her passengers. People don't realize the faster you go, the less time you have to react to anything that happens, Gardner said, and it just becomes a big mess. "

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