Our View: Traffic warning program is a worthy effort

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Some of us have been there before. We’re driving along, minding our business, and then the familiar red and blue lights of a patrol car fill our rear-view mirror.
Instantly we tense up and wonder, “What did I do wrong?” We then pull over and wait to find out what our error was, and what our punishment will be. But every once in a while, we’re showered with a wave of relief when the officer lets us off with a warning and we go on about our way – mindful of what we’ve done wrong.
That last scenario has become a more regular occurrence here thanks to Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn and his officers’ traffic enforcement warning program — and they should be applauded for their efforts.
Recently Chief Ruffcorn went before the City Council and talked about his warning citation program and its results. While on one end of the spectrum the funds that are generated from regular traffic citations are down, the chief also says vehicle accidents are trending lower, too.
Other factors can weigh into there being fewer wrecks — such as weather conditions — but you can also make the connection that the warning system has helped reduce traffic violations, too. Because sometimes, when given a second chance, you’re more focused on not committing that infraction again – otherwise the next time you might be on the receiving end of an expensive ticket.   
Another benefit of this program that can’t be measured in dollar amounts is the improved relationship between law enforcement and the community. We second the opinion of Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby when he addressed council about the warning program.
“I think it’s time to compliment the police chief,” Kirby said recently. “With no increase in accidents, we have seen an improvement of the relationship between the police department and our citizens. It’s been noticeable – and I’ve heard that from people who have been stopped and have received warnings instead of tickets.”
Now let’s not confuse these fee-free citations as a sign of loosening enforcement of the law. If you happen to get one of these warnings, you’ll notice printed right on it is the normal cost of the offense you just committed. And the department keeps track of those who get multiple warnings. Keep disobeying traffic laws and you will have to fork out some cash, or something more depending on your transgression.
So stay safe out there and pay attention and abide by the traffic laws. But it’s nice to know that if your attention slips, you might be given a second chance to do better before opening up your wallet.