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Arkansas authorities using new program to keep drivers safe

The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office is starting 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 kicked off a unique safety initiative as people get on the road for Memorial Day weekend.

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

Sheriff Eric Higgins said instead of pulling drivers over and giving them a citation for something like a taillight being out, they're actually going to give them a gift card to fix it.

"I think it's important that we identify issues, but also provide a resource for them to address those problems," he said.

Just in time for one of the busiest travel weekends of the summer, Sheriff Higgins announced the new program on Friday, May 27. It doesn't just point out a problem, but gives a solution too.

"This gives us an opportunity to identify and assist them right in that moment, so that they can be safer when they're driving down 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 is becoming a hot topic in cities across the country, some even banning police departments from making these stops.

"This gives us a good opportunity as we're emphasizing safety, people getting out. We're also talking about safety of their vehicle," Sheriff Higgins said.

It's a program General Manager Chris Nolan said Advanced Auto Parts has done for several years in many states.

"The community likes it. The officers like it, we like it of course," he said.

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

"Headlight could be anywhere between, $15 to $25. Taillights being like $9 to $10," he said.

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

"A lot of times when people don't realize their headlights are out or taillights, that's a big safety concern, so if we can help safety then it's good," Nolan said.

Sheriff Higgins said they're hoping to continue this program with Advanced Auto Parts for the foreseeable future.

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