Speeders: Beware of troopers’ traps | VailDaily.com

Speeders: Beware of troopers’ traps

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Matt Hessy used to drive his Lotus Esprit 100 miles per hour on Interstate 70 between Avon and Edwards on his way to martial arts class.

“They don’t patrol there,” said Hessy, former Wildridge resident.

Hessy, 29, has never received a speeding ticket on the highway in Eagle County, though he acknowledges he should have.

Plenty of others have received traffic tickets: The Colorado State Patrol gave 12,256 traffic tickets in Eagle County in 2006, said Capt. Richard Duran of the State Patrol.

But as Hessy has learned, that depends on where a driver decides to speed.

In February, 203 speeding tickets were given on Interstate 70 in Eagle County. Of that number, troopers gave 44 percent on two 6-mile stretches of the highway.

The one-month slice shows where troopers will give out tickets the rest of the year, Duran said.

“We’re going to do the same areas throughout the entire year,” Capt. Richard Duran of the Colorado State Patrol said.

Troopers patrol Dowd Junction and the stretch between Eagle and Wolcott because that’s where the most drivers are injured or killed in the county, Duran said.

For instance, troopers stopped 38 vehicles after clocking them from mile 153 near Eagle, according to State Patrol records. They made 30 stops from mile 169 west of Dowd Junction.

Both mile markers are near areas riddled with curves and bridges prone to ice.

Troopers catch the most drunk drivers in Dowd Junction ” people like to party in Vail and then drive west back home, Duran said.

Troopers don’t have a quota of speeding tickets they must give ” the State Patrol’s main goal is to prevent injury and fatal crashes, Duran said.

Vail police aggressively patrol their stretch of Interstate 70, said Detective Sgt. Craig Bettis of the Vail Police Department.

In 2006, Vail police gave 744 tickets ” 504 more than they gave in 2005 and police spent twice as many hours patrolling the highway last year than in 2005, he said.

The average speed of those police have stopped has decreased 3 miles per hour since 2004, thanks in part to a dummy that sits in a police cruiser that fools highway travelers in East Vail, Bettis said.

Avon police have traditionally patrolled the highway using four-wheel-drive Chevrolet Tahoes ” sometimes without success, Avon police said.

A police Tahoe has a difficult time catching up to someone who speeding west at 80 m.p.h., said Officer Steve Hodges.

Sometimes Hodges has to call dispatch for backup, he said. Hodges recalls a couple times when speeders actually got away.

That should change when Avon police purchase a $40,000 Dodge Charger sometime in April and hires a new officer, said Avon police Chief Brian Kozak.

They might not have to worry about Hessy when he comes back from Kansas to visit. Hessy got a ticket for driving 160 miles per hour there and thinks he will lose his license, he said.

“I probably should get rid of it or I’ll end up killing myself,” he said about his sports car.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.

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