OHP troopers given 100-mile daily driving restrictions - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

OHP troopers given 100-mile daily driving restrictions

(Source: KSWO) (Source: KSWO)
(Source: KSWO) (Source: KSWO)

Lawton, OK (KSWO) -Starting Dec. 1, Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers are going to be restricted to driving only 100 miles a day. Before the restrictions, troopers in our area were driving on average 200 to 240 miles a day.  The change is the result of funding cuts that were brought on by this year's state budget shortfall. 

Troopers are going to have to make changes to their daily patrol circuit by keeping a close eye on how much they've driven during their shift. As they get closer to that 100-mile limit, they'll need to decide if they should head to their nearest headquarters, or pull to the side of the road and wait for a specific emergency call.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Kerry Massie said this mile restriction can affect their response times to accidents.

For example, if a trooper is at Troop G headquarters because he's almost at his daily limit, and gets a called out to an accident at mile marker one by the Texas border, it's going to take him at least 40 minutes to get there.

"Unfortunately, that's just the position we're in and because we're under that restriction, we have to limit to what we can do. So, it's going to hurt us," Massie said.

Troop G covers six counties in southwest Oklahoma.

"They're responsible for 106 miles of turnpike so it's not hard for them to rack those miles up," Massie said.

That’s not including Highway 7, 81, or other highways along the way from the Texas border all the way up to the Oklahoma City area.

 He says Troop G is a group of go-getters, so it's hard to tell them they can only patrol so much. 

"It's frustrating to them and it's frustrating to the commanders and all because normally where we could send them out and they could cover the county, now we're telling them you can't do that right now because of budget constraints," Massie said.

While having this restriction is difficult, Massie it's better than furloughing troopers.

"If you start furloughing troopers, then you’re really going to dramatically decrease the response time because you may only have one trooper out for 4 counties because all the other ones are on furloughs. This is a way to combat that but yes it's frustrating," Massie said.

This restriction on mileage comes on top of an earlier cost-saving decision to halt the expansion of their radio communication system, which would essentially link troopers statewide, making it safer for them during high-risk operations.  

With this restriction, Massie said the Highway Patrol will also need to rely more on help from county sheriff's departments in emergency situations.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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