Last month a woman in her early 20s was driving east on 300 South in Provo when she noticed a police officer holding up a sign that said, "You're speeding. Slow down and Arrive Alive."
Thinking that she was the victim of a speed trap, the woman turned around and drove back to find out what the sign meant. She did not think police warned speeders."Does this mean that I had a picture taken of me and that I'm going to get a ticket in the mail?" the woman asked officers.
But much to the woman's delight, police do give warnings. The woman was only a victim of the Arrive Alive program.
Funded by the National Highway Safety Administration, the Arrive Alive program is designed to help local police agencies reduce traffic violations. Cities receive federal funds that are used to enforce traffic regulations and to run education programs.
This year Utah County received $120,000 in Arrive Alive funds. The money is split up among the participating cities according to population. The sheriff's office runs the program in those cities choosing not to participate.
Cities that choose to participate in the program must provide 13 percent matching funds. However, equipment used in the program can count toward the matching portion.
For most local police agencies, the Arrive Alive program is the only effort put toward traffic enforcement. Even though police calls have increased over the past few years, the number of police officers has not.
"More and more demand is being placed on officers to respond to service calls and less time is spent toward traffic enforcement," said sheriff's Capt. David Lamph, program director. "If you receive a burglary call and a call from a citizen complaining about someone speeding in their neighborhood, the felony is going to take precedence. It's a matter of prioritizing your manpower, and every city that I'm aware of is undermanned at this time."
The advantage to cities is that the program uses off-duty officers. Besides providing a little extra income for officers, it provides cities with a person with no distractions.
"They can concentrate their efforts on traffic enforcement and not have to worry about being called away on another assignment," Provo police Capt. Mike Mock said.
Orem police Sgt. Norm Carter said, "The officer is freed from any other service so he's able to devote his time to these items that are normally neglected."
Sixty percent of the funding is spent on enforcement efforts and 40 percent on education programs.
For Provo and other cities, holding up a warning sign for speeders is part of their education program. Orem uses an electronic sign that displays the speeds cars are traveling.
"For some it helps, but other drivers don't pay any attention. If that happens then we'll have a car down the road to reinforce our message," Carter said.
On some days, Provo officers say they are holding up the sign constantly. On other days they find most people drive near the speed limit.
"By the time the people have slowed down to read the sign it has served its purpose," Mock said.
Enforcement efforts usually involve some type of speed trap. The sheriff's office has increased radar patrols in Spanish Fork Canyon, and Lamph said it is proving to be effective.
"The program is being so effective that we have received calls from Carbon County wanting to know if we are picking on their people," Lamph said.
The funding for the program is scheduled to expire in September 1993. Lamph said he hopes the program will be extended, otherwise cities will have to find other ways to enforce traffic.
"This has allowed cities to handle traffic problems while they deal with the lack of manpower problem," he said.