Most of us cringe when we see the blue and white lights in our rear view mirror, letting us know a police officer would like our attention. usually that’s because we know we’ve been doing something wrong, even if we aren’t exactly sure what that THING is.

In Arizona, Buckeye Police Department has been working to do as much educating of drivers as they do citing them for traffic infractions, and as a result, fewer citations are needing to be handed out. This is good news for drivers and good news for the state as the incidence of traffic crashes seems to be declining.

There certainly is no substitute for an excellent defensive driving course, but when it comes to traffic laws, the police almost always know what they are talking about so it’s a good idea to listen to them. The Buckeye Traffic Unit has been tasked with spotting drivers who might be unaware of their poor driving skills and helping them understand both Arizona traffic law and what they might be able to do better behind the wheel.

This is a good idea for public safety and a good idea for drivers.

Officers Erick Halim and Larry Buchanan make up Buckeye’s traffic unit, which was created in September 2009 when the Police Department bought two motorcycles using grant money from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. A year later, they added an undercover Ford Mustang, which also was purchased with highway safety office grant money, to help catch aggressive drivers.

The number of traffic citations officers wrote spiked in fiscal 2010, the unit’s first year, with speeding tickets increasing from 1,351 in fiscal 2009 to 2,165. Criminal speeding — driving 20 mph over in a 45-mph zone — jumped from 9 to 27 in the same time. Similarly, citations for failing to stop at a stop sign increased from 350 to 506.

But the numbers have been on the decline since, with speeding citations dropping to 1,339 and 948 in fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012 (through March 31), respectively. Stop-sign violations fell to 403 and 295 in the same time period, while DUI arrests have dropped from 215 in fiscal 2010 to 87 in fiscal 2012.