New program aims to keep Arkansas drivers safe

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office is launching a new program where officers offer a gift card, rather than a citation for minor issues like a missing headlight.

PULASKI COUNTY, Ark — The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office has launched a unique safety initiative as people hit the road for Memorial Day weekend.

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office is the first police department in the state to do so.

Sheriff Eric Higgins said that instead of stopping drivers and giving them a citation for something like a failed taillight, they’ll actually give them a gift card to fix it.

“I think it’s important that we identify the issues, but also provide them with a resource to address those issues,” he said.

Just in time for one of the busiest travel weekends of the summer, Sheriff Higgins announced the new schedule on Friday, May 27. It not only reports a problem, but also gives a solution.

“It gives us the opportunity to identify them and help them at that time, so that they are safer when driving on the road,” he said.

Advanced Auto Parts donated $2,500 in gift cards to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office to give to drivers for minor citations.

Officers writing citations for things like a missing headlight or taillight are becoming a hot topic in cities across the country, with some even banning police departments from making these stops.

“It gives us a good opportunity because we’re focusing on safety, people are getting out. We’re also talking about the safety of their vehicle,” Sheriff Higgins said.

It’s a program that General Manager Chris Nolan said Advanced Auto Parts has had in place for several years in many states.

“The community loves him. The officers love him, of course we love him,” he said.

According to Nolan, the $25 gift card officers give to drivers usually covers expenses and then some.

“The headlight can cost between $15 and $25. The taillights cost between $9 and $10,” he said.

At the end of the day, gift cards and tickets aside, they come together for one thing.

“A lot of times when people don’t realize their headlights or taillights are off, that’s a big safety issue, so if we can help with safety, that’s good,” Nolan said.

Sheriff Higgins said he hopes to continue this program with Advanced Auto Parts for the foreseeable future.

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