State troopers writing fewer tickets for aggressive driving

State troopers writing fewer tickets for aggressive driving »Play Video
YAKIMA COUNTY -- State troopers aren't writing as many tickets for aggressive driving. But, it's not necessarily because people are driving better. KIMA learned that problems during winter are a big reason for the drop. We dug deeper into the numbers.

"Clear 3, with a rider,"

That rider was KIMA. With Washington State Trooper Erik Magnussen, who was on the lookout for aggressive drivers.

"Most common would be speed, excessive speed," said Trooper Magnussen. "And, then following distance."

We set off on I-82 East. It wasn't long before he stopped someone for driving too fast and not signaling.

"I had you at 73 there, coming out of the 60 zone and into the 70 as you were approaching me," he told the driver.

Trooper Magnussen is part of the Yakima District's Aggressive Driver Apprehension Team. He's a backup to one of the five full-time troopers assigned to it.

They go after drivers moving at least 20 mph faster than the posted speed limit, who are committing multiple violations at the same time or causing other drivers to react to avoid an accident.

Troopers say the number of incidents has dropped from about 6,500 in 2012 to less than 6,000 last year.

Almost 2,600 have been reported so far this year. That's down from almost 3,200 for the same period a year ago.

So, why the dip?

Lt. Ken Wade says a bad winter was partly to blame. Weather-related accidents in February almost doubled in a year.

"That and March significantly reduced the amount of time our aggressive driving program...those troopers could spend out on the roadway looking for and stopping aggressive driving."

State patrol also stepped up DUI enforcement and made one hundred more arrests this year. Lt. Wade says it's all part of being a trooper. He doesn't see a need to expand the aggressive driving unit.

"Our mission is not to write tickets. Our mission is to save lives."

The Washington State Patrol plans to hire four more troopers assigned to the Yakima District in September. They would help cover general patrols.