Be aware when driving on campus

The Oakland University Police Department is continuing Project SAFE (Stop Accidents From Escalating) Streets starting March 31. The cooperative effort between the OUPD and the Auburn Hills Police is now in its third year. 

The SAFE Streets Project is a citywide initiative which is done twice a year in the spring and fall. OUPD’s Captain Mark Gordon said that the OUPD will be patrolling the roads just outside of campus to try to improve driving conditions by setting up traffic enforcement zones to “make community members aware of their driving.” 

“It makes them think twice,” Gordon said. 

The OUPD represents only one facet of the project. Though the OUPD has been cooperating with Auburn Hills police for three years on SAFE Streets, the project itself is in its sixth year. The project has lead to a 23 percent reduction in the number of traffic accidents in Auburn Hills since it was implemented. 

The areas of University Drive between Squirrel and Pontiac roads, and Squirrel Road between Cross Creek Parkway and Walton Boulevard will be monitored as OUPD’s traffic enforcement zones, which will also be marked by signs. 

Gordon said that although all regular traffic laws will be enforced, officers will be paying special attention to drivers using excessive speed, following other vehicles too closely, and failing to yield to others. 

Enforcement zones will be set up on March 31, April 14 and May 5, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The dates for traffic enforcement zones are a bit more spread out then they have been in previous years, but Gordon says this way it will produce a long-term memory effect. 

“I think if we spread them out a little further, we stay on their minds,” Gordon said. 

But what would be the point of getting tough on traffic laws and then warning everyone in advance to let them know when and where the enforcement zones will be? 

“The intent is not a ‘gotcha’ moment where we sneak up on you,” Gordon said. 

Gordon said the effort is more about education, in an overall effort to increase safe driving, rather than simply handing out more tickets. The officers also hand out pamphlets about Project SAFE Streets to the cars they stop. 

The OUPD has some specific tips for safe driving on their website as well. They advise avoiding driving in bad weather, avoiding eating, drinking, or talking on a cell phone driving, allow a three second space cushion between your car and the car in front of you, and give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination. 

Generally, the program suggests being aware of surroundings: checking blind spots before changing lanes, scanning intersections before passing through them, and indicating with a turn signal before changing lanes.