With roadside litter an escalating problem throughout the state, The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) is using a Violator Reporting System and 24-hour, toll-free hotline to ask for motorist assistance in helping solve the problem.
Highway officials are encouraging motorists who spot a littering violation along any streets, roads or highways to call 1-866-811-1222 to report the situation. All types of trash and all types of vehicles are subject to be reported, whether a cigarette butt or whether thrown from a commercial vehicle, as long as the license plate number is provided.
Litter reporting phone calls are answered 24 hours a day by an office of the Arkansas Highway Police (AHP) who will record the incident. A letter will then be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle regarding the violation. Information about recurring violations reported from the same vehicle will be tracked and may eventually result in an in-person visit by an Arkansas Highway Police Officer to investigate the problem. The goal is not to issue citations, but to let both law abiding citizens and litter violators know this is a problem the AHTD takes seriously and will pursue thoroughly to enforce Arkansas litter laws.
Reporting a litter violation is quick and simple, while allowing the caller to remain unidentified. Motorists will need to provide the date and location that the littering occurred, a description of the vehicle including the license plate number and a description of the item discarded onto the roadway. Roadway signs currently in place to forewarn motorists of potential fines for littering will now include the toll-free number asking for littering reports.
Currently there are eight other states that have implemented similar Violator Reporting Systems with great success. Not only will a reduction in roadside litter improve the enjoyment of residents and visitors who travel our highways, but it’s a great way to help preserve our natural environment. As an added bonus, it will save taxpayer money since AHTD normally spends several million dollars a year cleaning up the discarded trash of careless motorists.
Rather than view the reporting of litter as a negative, the hope is that motorists will take on this effort as a proactive deed of good will that will greatly benefit the state of Arkansas. Three benefits are expected from the Litter Reporting System:
Motorists who see the signs or become aware of the program will be reminded that they can be reported for littering by any other motorist and may be more conscious of their own littering behavior.
The program gives an outlet for citizens' frustrations. When they see a few careless motorists trashing the natural beauty of our state, they can take action.
Any person who receives the letter will be more thoughtful of their littering habits and will change their behavior.
The AHTD’s Violator Reporting System is part of a comprehensive plan to curtail roadside litter in Arkansas. At the request of the Arkansas Highway Commission, the 2003 Litter Task Force was formed from federal, state and local governments and associations to review current litter prevention and removal activities and identify areas of improvement. Action teams were then established to focus on the areas of education and outreach, litter pick up, enforcement and legislative funding. In addition to the AHTD spearheading the litter reduction effort, representatives from associations and state agencies such as the Highway Police, Arkansas State Police (ASP), Chiefs of Police & Sheriffs Associations, the Departments of Environmental Quality and Parks & Tourism, Game & Fish Commission and the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission have diligently worked together to solve Arkansas’ litter control problem.
Additional programs and policies are still in development as a result of the Litter Task Force efforts to create incentives for litter enforcement and clean up activities. A recognition program for law enforcement officers who are highly involved in anti-litter efforts, a program for corrections facilities that utilize prisoners in highway clean up efforts and highly publicized enforcement priority weeks will greatly raise the level of litter control action across Arkansas. Also, an anti-litter citation guide is being distributed for easy reference by law enforcement officers, ASP will include litter laws on the inside cover of the Arkansas Drivers Manual and The Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy will include a section on litter law enforcement in their training curricula.
For additional information about the AHTD’s 1-866-811-1222 Litter Reporting Hotline, motorists may contact the AHTD Public Affairs Office, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at (501) 569-2227 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about participating in community-based anti-litter programs, citizens may contact the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission at 1-888-742-8701 or visit their web site at: