It is the philosophy of the Fresno Police Department that in order to reduce incidents of impaired or dangerous driving, we have to change behavior and guide people to make the right decisions. Social change requires time and a sustained effort. We believe that combining both education and an unwavering enforcement effort to hold people accountable for their actions is effective in reaching our goal for social change.
In 2001, when Chief Jerry Dyer became the Fresno Police Department’s 21st Police Chief, he had a renewed vision for the department’s Traffic Bureau. Prior to Chief Dyer’s appointment, fatal traffic collisions consistently outnumbered homicides on an annual basis. Chief Dyer recognized that although all homicides are tragic and unacceptable, a majority of these incidents were attributed to poor lifestyle choices, such as being involved in gangs or drugs. In regards to traffic fatalities, innocent families are stricken, simply because they undertake the privilege of driving on our roadways; a privilege we all take for granted and one we believe will never end in tragedy. For this reason, in 2002, Chief Dyer made a commitment to change driving behaviors and took the approach that collisions are not “accidents,” but are in fact preventable.
Over the past 13 years, our department has made remarkable advancements towards our goal of zero deaths on our roadways. The Traffic Bureau has implemented cutting edge technology in the form of electronic ticket writers and data gathering software. We continue to be heavily involved in educational efforts that are geared not only towards combating impaired driving at the adult level, but at teen drivers as well. We recognize that although it is extremely important to educate drivers on the dangers of impaired driving, we also understand that it is equally important to focus on the hazards of distracted driving and the importance of keeping all vehicle occupants safe. To this end, the Traffic Bureau devotes countless hours to educating our drivers on the importance of not allowing anything to distract them while driving, the proper installation of safety seats, and the proper use of seatbelts.
Although technology and education are extremely important, we know that another major component in reaching our goal is enforcement. Since the implementation of Chief Dyer’s new vision, we have made nearly 39,000 arrests for impaired driving and have issued over 650,000 citations.
Despite making these tremendous gains, there have been times when we have suffered some setbacks. Our department was not immune from the economic recession in 2008. We experienced significant reductions in both civilian and sworn staff, which greatly impacted our productivity and reduced the time we could devote to our educational efforts. Despite experiencing some years with an increase in collisions from the previous year’s our resolve has not wavered. We continue towards our goal of keeping people safe on our roadways.
In 2015, our department investigated 30 fatalities, which is a staggering reduction of 42% from 2002. Of the 30 fatalities in 2015, there were a total of 12 pedestrian deaths. We recognized an increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2010, at which time we began to aggressively target these violations. Our aggressive enforcement paid off last year, as we saw 30% reduction in pedestrian deaths from 2014. In 2015, we conducted 12 pedestrian operations throughout the city, targeting pedestrian violations during both daytime and nighttime hours.
Last year, our DUI enforcement index was an impressive 14.5%. This is almost two times better than NHTSA’s guidelines of 25% for being a proactive agency. Of our total 2,786 DUI arrests in 2015, only 405 stemmed from an arrest at a DUI collision.
The Fresno Police Department’s Traffic Bureau continues the relentless pursuit of DUI drivers in our city. Through a variety of DUI education and enforcement programs designed to eradicate DUI drivers from our streets, the Fresno Police Department made 2,786 DUI arrests last year.
Fresno Remains the Safest Large City in California
Traffic safety is a compilation of numerous separate efforts reflected in our statistics. The sheer volume is impressive. We issued 54,542 traffic citations in 2015. Of those 9,582 were for speeding and 2,106 were for occupant protection violations. We cited 6,257 unlicensed drivers, 3,734 suspended drivers, and 2,760 distracted drivers.
An effective traffic safety program also has a significant impact on crime reduction. Traffic officers arrested 307 felony suspects and seized 19 guns last year. As a result, the Traffic Bureau is a major part of most large scale crime suppression operations in the city.
What is truly amazing is that in a city of over half a million people, only five of our fatalities in 2015 were attributed to the traditional vehicle versus vehicle collision. The significance regarding this fact is that the chances of a citizen within our community who legally drives a car, wears their seatbelt, and obeys traffic laws, becoming involved in a fatal collision are extremely rare.
Chief Jerry Dyer and the men and women of the Fresno Police Department will continue with their commitment to make traffic safety one of the highest priorities for our department, as we continue to work towards our goal of zero deaths on or roadways.