Seeking to reduce traffic accidents in the heavily traveled commuter corridor northwest of Baltimore, area police agencies are to begin a monthlong crackdown today on speeding, drunken driving and other violations.
Officers from the city and Baltimore and Carroll counties are stepping up patrols on Reisterstown Road/Route 140, Hanover Pike/Route 30, Interstate 795 and the Baltimore Beltway, authorities said.
"Basically, what we have here is a saturation patrol," said Lt. Kathleen Meeks, commanding officer of the Baltimore County police Traffic Resources Management Unit. "You're looking at three times as many cops out there as normal."
The enforcement effort is patterned after a similar campaign last year in the Washington Boulevard area south of Baltimore. Police said that effort -- modeled on a 1994 project on Pulaski Highway in eastern Baltimore County -- produced 142 drunken driving arrests and an 18 percent reduction in accidents.
Police said the Reisterstown Road corridor was chosen because it is highly traveled by commuters and has a high number of alcohol-related accidents.
Also, Reisterstown Road's intersections with Hooks Lane and the Beltway are two of the most dangerous in Baltimore County, with 31 accidents reported last year. Last year, 390 accidents were reported for the county's entire length of Reisterstown Road/Route 140.
Meeks said the increased enforcement also could result in an increase in criminal arrests. "Bad guys use cars to drive from where they are going to do their bad things and to drive back," she said.
The project is chiefly paid for with $115,000 in federal and state money controlled by Baltimore County. The county will use the money to pay overtime for patrol officers and investigators from specialized units such as the DWI Task Force.
Other county and state agencies are to participate; for example, the state Motor Vehicle Administration may provide investigators to help police with cars lacking proper registration.
Carroll County designated $2,000 in highway safety grants to pay for overtime at the Hampstead Police Department and the Westminster state police barracks, said Meg Gobrecht, highway safety coordinator for the county's Health Department.
Baltimore County police said Westminster police were to participate. But Lt. Dean Brewer of the Westminster force said yesterday that his department had not received details of the program.
"As a result, we have zero participation other than our own regular enforcement in the area of Route 140," he said. "We just had no heads-up, and we're unable to dedicate any manpower to do anything now."