It can be a crazy commute along the Glenn Highway, with thousands of people all trying to make it to work on time.
Anchorage police officers are looking to take the “rush” out of rush hour.
“People think they’re allowed 10 miles over the speed limit before an officer will stop them,” says officer Alan Rydberg. “It couldn’t be furthest from the truth. Anything over three miles an hour is a citable offense. “
Rydberg is just one of the Anchorage Police Department’s several Traffic Unit officers patrolling Anchorage’s main artery.
He parks in the median and uses a LiDAR speed gun to see how fast people are traveling. APD has been ramping up patrols on the Glenn recently, and Rydberg says most people seem to be following the speed limits.
He moves his unmarked patrol car to the Eagle River overpass, and it isn’t long before he spots a driver coming down the hill at 79 mph.
The Glenn Highway is notorious for high speeds and high traffic volume — 60,000 cars a day.
When Rydberg pulls up behind the speeding car, the driver immediately pulls over to the shoulder. He explains he was in a “pocket of traffic” and just going with the flow.
Rydberg runs the driver’s vehicle history and decides to be lenient because he doesn’t have any traffic offenses.
“I’ll reduce the speed I issue the citation for. It will bring a four-point ticket down to a two-point ticket and significantly reduce the fine,” the officer says. “At least it will be good contact by the police and he’ll know we’re here to slow people down.”
He cites the driver for going nine miles per hour over the speed limit instead of 14. The driver puts up a fuss when he’s handed the ticket.
“I’ve been commuting on this thing for 25 years, I know how to drive,” he argues. “I’m a safe driver but it really doesn’t matter to you. It’s just a ticket.”
Police aren’t just looking for excessive speed. Another top priority is to make sure drivers are aware of the “Move Over” law.
Rydberg pulls up behind another officer making a traffic stop to see if people will follow the rule: Move over a lane to give the officer some space or drastically reduce their speed.
The law’s only been around for a couple of years and not everyone knows about it yet.
Rydberg pulls over a driver who admits he saw both officers but hadn’t heard about the law.
“I’m just going to give him a warning. It’s not all about writing citations all the time. It’s about informing the public about the laws that are out there,” Rydberg said.
Officers are trying to get the message out one driver at a time: Follow the rules of the road to keep yourself out of trouble on your trip.