LITTLE ROCK — An increase in the number of aggressive driving violations on the state's highways has Arkansas State Troopers turning to new vehicles.
Arkansas State Police have acquired 25 new low profile highway patrol vehicles to bolster the attack against incidents of aggressive and distracted driving. The black Chevrolet Tahoes are partially marked with the state police insignia visible only from the passenger side, but fully equipped to conduct traffic stops.
"Putting state troopers in non-conventional patrol vehicles to blend unnoticed in traffic is nothing new; we've been doing it more than 20 years," said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police. "What's new today is the use of a taller vehicle platform like the Tahoe that will offer troopers an improved visual perspective to detect drivers violating distracted driving laws or spotting a vehicle being driven in an aggressive manner that threatens other motorist's safety."
During 2020 there were 641 deaths in Arkansas resulting from motor vehicle crashes, a 27% increase over the previous year. The number of highway crash deaths has already surpassed 400 this year.
In 2020, Arkansas troopers stopped 2,030 drivers who were traveling at 100 miles per hour, or faster, an increase of more than 100% from 2019 among violators exceeding the 100 miles per hour speed.
The three digit speed violations in 2021 have already surpassed all last year with troopers issuing 2,381 tickets to violators between January and June this year for speeds between 100 160 miles per hour.
The faster speeding violations has also been compounded by a spike in incidences of drivers refusing to stop when state troopers attempt to initiate traffic stops.
Over the past five years, troopers in Arkansas have documented a 98% increase in pursuits involving drivers who choose to flee rather than pull-over for a violation.
Troopers assigned to the low profile patrols will also be watching for drivers who illegally use the left lane of a multi-lane highway. Arkansas law was amended this year to prohibit drivers from using the left lane of a multi-lane highway except when passing other traffic. Presently troopers are issuing warnings to violators while drivers acclimate themselves to the change. In the coming days troopers will transition to strict enforcement of the new law and begin issuing violator citations.
The ASP's recognizable white sedan with blue stripes and state police markings will continue to be the mainstay of the ASP highway patrol fleet with aerial observation from two aircraft flying in support over the highways.
The low profile vehicles will be assigned to each of the twelve highway patrol troops across the state. The new low profile patrol vehicles and law enforcement equipment installed in the vehicles were purchased with federal grant money totaling $1.15 million provided by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.