KILLEEN (April 7, 2013)--Record-breaking number of auto fatalities forces police department to increase traffic enforcement, cracking down on speeders and drunk drivers.
2012 was a record breaking year for auto and motorcycle deaths.
Last year, there were 20, which is up from an average of 15 annually over the last 20 years.
"People complain on why we're concentrating on traffic and not other crimes," Sgt. Sam Ellis, KPD's Traffic Supervisor said.
"What people forget is we have as many, if not more, people die in traffic accidents in Killeen than we have murdered...it's just as big of a deal," Ellis said.
Ellis said the common factor in almost all of Killeen's traffic fatalities is alcohol, speed or both.
It's not just the high number of deaths that Killeen police and TxDOT are worried about; it's also the number of car and motorcycle crashes.
The latest TxDot reports show there were about 4,000 accidents in Killeen in 2011.
These crashes are not only costly for those involved, but also for all residents of Killeen.
"Car wrecks average $8,000-$10,000 or more, and that costs for every citizen," Ellis said.
"It increases insurance rates because it affects the number of accidents per capita."
Because of the high number of accidents, KPD has added dozens of patrol officers to keep an eye on people who are speeding and/or driving while intoxicated.
This is possible through recent federal grants totaling more than $200,000, which is the most in federal grants KPD has ever seen.
"Since December of 2012 to the end of March this year, we wrote 7,796 speeding tickets and made 68 DWI arrests and 49 other arrests," Ellis said.
Ellis also said the increased traffic enforcement has already decreased the number of crashes from last year's average of 210 a month to currently about 180 a month.