INDIANAPOLIS — Despite a decrease in drivers on the roads, federal officials say traffic fatalities increased during the pandemic. Now, two state representatives are calling on Governor Eric Holcomb to set aside funding to address what they call a safety crisis on the roads.
Blake Johnson and Mitch Gore are both Democrats who represent Indianapolis. They say extra funding to help agencies enforce traffic laws is necessary as many police departments are already stretched thin.
"Here in our community, for example, the men and women of IMPD and other local agencies are just going from call to call and run to run answering calls for service and when you have limited resources like our police agencies do, you have to allocate people to where they're needed the most and often that's not traffic enforcement," Gore said. "That's why you can't simply tell IMPD or ISP or any local or state county agency [to] do more traffic enforcement. There simply isn't enough money, there simply aren't enough officers."
The lawmakers' plan would allow state police and local agencies to apply for dollars without a match requirement to pay for overtime for officers working traffic enforcement details.
They also plan to introduce legislation that would allow cities to install traffic cameras in school zones. The lawmakers say state law currently bans cities from using them according to a 2008 attorney general opinion.
"I drive home on Washington Street each day, and during that one drive from downtown to the east side, I go through three school zones. If we could adequately enforce those school zones and cite individuals for speed infractions, I believe we could dramatically reduce the speeds we see on that corridor in particular, which is one of the most dangerous in the city," Johnson said.
In a letter to Governor Holcomb, the lawmakers also cited the impact that crashes have on healthcare systems, insurance premiums, and Hoosier families.