Mohave County Sheriff unveils speeding plan

March 30, 2019

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Department is requesting more than $25,000 from the state to fight speeding.

Sheriff Doug Schuster will present his request to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors for approval at the board’s Monday meeting. Under the proposed request for grant funding from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Schuster will be asking for $16,132 for a crash data recorder, and $9,698 for two speed awareness trailers to be used by county deputies.

According to Schuster, speeding represents one of the most common criminal complaints among county residents. Since 2017, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office has received 694 calls from the public regarding speeding vehicles throughout the county. The Sheriff’s Office received grant funding for two such trailers in 2018, and Schuster plans to place those trailers in areas of Kingman, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City and the Arizona Strip, which are the county’s most densely populated areas. These trailers would be deployed a minimum of eight days per month.

In a county of more than 200,000 residents, the Sheriff’s Office fields about 87 deputies to police the region in coordination with municipal law enforcement agencies, according to Schuster. As more traffic comes to Mohave County, the risk posed by potential speeders is increasing as well. Sheriff’s Department records show the number of annual traffic fatalities in Mohave County has been increasing each year since 2016. In 2016 there were seven recorded traffic fatalities, followed by nine fatalities in 2017. Last year, the Sheriff’s Office recorded 11 traffic fatalities.

As of this week, there have already been four such fatalities in 2019.

According to Schuster, however, the total number of recorded citations for speeding has been falling since 2016. In 2016, deputies gave 991 civil speeding citations. Last year, deputies gave only 526 such citations.

Undersheriff Ed Trafecanty explained how speed awareness trailers can curb speeding in Mohave County.

“A traffic speed complaint study conducted last year proved the effectiveness of the trailer in reducing the speed of vehicles,” Trafecanty said. “The study also showed that vehicles traveling less than the speed limit would generally increase their speed to, or just below the posted limit. This narrowed the mile-per-hour speed difference between vehicles, which resulted in a consistency of speed near or below the legal speed limit.”

In the event of accidents, a crash data recorder could be critical in providing evidence to support criminal charges in cases involving motor collisions. According to Schuster, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have such a device, and often has to rely on assistance from the Arizona Department of Public Safety to investigate such accidents. According to Schuster, purchasing a crash data recorder wouldn’t just benefit the county, but municipal law enforcement agencies within Mohave County as well.

A crash data recorder would give investigators the ability to capture data from modern vehicles’ onboard computer systems. Such data could provide valuable information as to a vehicle’s speed, brake status, seat belt status, throttle position, occupants and air bag deployment at the time of an accident.

“Crash information is generally received from witness statements, involved party statements, tire skid marks and vehicle damage,” Trafecanty said. “The ability to add real time data from the vehicle’s onboard computer system into the investigation could be instrumental in determining the root cause of a traffic accident and aid in prosecution if applicable.”

If Schuster’s request for grant funding is approved by the board of supervisors, it will be sent to the Governor’s Office on Highway Safety for consideration and possible approval.