ISP notices rise in rural fatalities, launches new program

Indiana State Police launched a statewide program Wednesday, aimed to curb a rising number of fatalities in rural areas.

According to ISP, the number of fatalities across Indiana has dropped in recent years, from 754 deaths in 2010 to 748 deaths in 2011. However, police have noticed fatalities are up in rural areas, higher than those in urban areas.

"Prior years the urban fatalities have always been slightly higher,” said Lt. John Smithers. “This year, for some reason, it's significantly out of balance that way."

Police are also keeping a close eye on crashes involving younger and underage drivers. Most recently, a 14-year-old Indianapolis girl was arrested for crashing a car into a tree. The girl and her three teenage passengers were all hospitalized.

"Obviously we've had some pretty high profile ones around here involving younger drivers in single-vehicle crashes, and younger drivers are always a concern because they're inexperienced," said Smithers.

The Crash Reduction Enforcement Program will use unmarked cars, motorcycles, an INDOT truck and a State Police helicopter to track bad drivers.

"Following too close, changes lanes improperly without signaling, driving too fast for weather conditions, driving while distracted," said Smithers.

He hopes the patrols, along with increased awareness, will curb the trend and save lives.

"One less person dead is one less person dead,” said Smithers. “If that's all we can accomplish, that's what we're shooting for."


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