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Speeders Beware: Police Are Tracking You

After a citizen concern made its way to the Board of Police Commissioners, Branford PD deployed speed trackers on two roads to see how many vehicles are in fact speeding.

Last month we brought you an following the Branford Police Department’s Traffic Committee Meeting. The story garnered 20 comments with several readers noting they were glad to finally talk about an issue that they believe plagues many roads in town. One reader, , even went as far as to say, “Simply stated...this is the most necessary article in Branford as of yet.”

The issue of speeding was brought up last month through a concerned citizen on Damascus Road who believed cars traveled too fast on her road. To further explore the validity of her observations, was tasked with doing a speed study of this area as well as Mill Plain Road at the intersection of Hickory Hill.

The numbers don’t lie.

In a three-day period from Oct. 12 to Oct. 14, 3,068 vehicles passed through the speed tracker on Damascus Road in the Griffing Pond Road area going eastbound. Of those traveling during the time period, 83 percent of vehicles or 2,563 cars and trucks were traveling above the speed limit of 25 mph.

However, Halloran was quick to note to the Board of Police Commissioners on Monday when the findings were presented, that not all speeders were drastically over the speed limit. “Over all are the cars going a little bit faster than the speed limit,” he asked? The answer was yes, but he added, “not extraordinarily fast. Sometimes it’s perception."

Of those tracked, 10 vehicles were actually traveling more than 51 mph. The majority of drivers, 1,066 of them, were traveling between 0 and 30 mph; another 962 fell in the 31 to 35 mph range and 208 were riding speeds of 41 to 45 mph. Thirty-six drivers were hovering between 46 to 50 mph (see full report attached in PDF).

Though the general belief on Damascus Road and Mill Plain Road, where speed results were similar (see attached PDFs), is that drivers are traveling just above speed limits, Commissioner Kurt Schwanfelder stated that more needs to be considered when it comes to top speeds.

“These roads are also smaller secondary roads that have blind spots,” he said. When you add five miles per hour over the speed limit,” he added,  “it reduces the driver’s time to be able to negotiate what’s necessary.”

Halloran agreed with Schwanfelder and noted that monitoring speed as well as deploying traffic officers to various areas will be the key to reducing speeds and keeping roads safe.

One method of proactive policing is to track what Halloran calls “hot spot” traffic areas where motor vehicle accidents or speeding is likely to occur and to send police cars to these spots.

Called, “putting cops on dots,” statistical policing, stated Halloran, has proved successful in the past for the Branford Police Department who has seen traffic accidents reduced from 30 per week in 2007 to 12-13 per week currently.

Of placing officers through town in stealth traffic vehicles and traditional marked cars, Halloran said, “The outcome is not necessarily to give tickets, it’s to slow people down.”

During the week of Oct. 10 to Oct. 23 the hot spots for MVA were the following intersections (see maps in PDF):

Cedar and Main streets

Main Street and Liesl Lane

West Main Street and Alps Road

Main and Sylvia streets

Apart from the intersection of Main and Sylvia streets, police deployed both patrol units and traffic officers to the troubled areas showing their predictive policing is right on point with data.

In addition to continuing to place “cops on dots,” the department will also be looking into purchasing a second speed trailer for the town. The current town trailer is about 10 to 15 years old according to Halloran and is currently out of service. Last month, the department was able to determine that the repair is a simple replacement of three car batteries. However, the older trailer does not use LED lights to display speed like new models do so an inquiry was requested at the meeting to price out purchasing a new trailer.

Steve from SAAC November 16, 2011 at 11:13 AM
I would also suggest that as a corresponding safety measure (especially now that it gets dark an hour earlier), that joggers and dog-walkers wear some reflective gear--especially in the side-walk-less parts of town. I've seen too many close calls, from both the perspective of car driver and dog-walker. Speeding increases the potential for disaster. It is also my opinion that carrying a flashlight and shining it in oncoming drivers' eyes does not help--but rather only serves to disorient the driver. Reflective gear, as much of it as you can stand (vests like road crews wear especially), is the way to go.
Gerri Rienzi November 16, 2011 at 11:47 AM
A traffic survey for speeding should be done on Short Beach Road especially in the warmer weather...they sometimes roar up Short Beach Road.
Leeny November 16, 2011 at 12:39 PM
Speeding is a problem in Branford, that's a given. However, in what year was the 25 MPH speed limit instituted and what were cars like then? In view of the answers, I feel that the police department has adjusted their thinking and some citizens in Branford also need to adjust to modern reality. I am not asking for the speed limit to be raised; however, some reasonable flexibility, as shown by our police, is in order.
Lori Fogler Nicholson November 16, 2011 at 12:50 PM
I wonder what the age and gender demographics are for this data. I did turn down that road 2 days ago and a young man in a BMW gunned it around the corner doing approx. 40-50mph. He was out of sight in seconds and over the hill but came to a halt because DPW people were in the road. In order to correct the issue we need more specifics because we can't afford to put an officer on that road 24/7. I was given a ticket when I lived in NYC because a traffic camera saw me race through a yellow light that turned red when I got under it. It was a $300 fine and I never did it again. There is alot of controversy surrounding these cameras but in truth they work because people get caught. Something to think about at least.
Joe November 16, 2011 at 01:29 PM
The 25 MPH limit is unrealistic and clearly outdated......it should be raised to 35....then have the speed traps.
Broke Dick Dad November 16, 2011 at 02:09 PM
The 25 MPH speed limit is NOT unrealistic....do the algebra: let's say you have to drive 5 miles through town, that would take 12 minutes @ 25MPH and 9 minutes @ 35MPH, which is not a significant time savings. Moreover, the police probably wouldn't pull over anyone driving 35MPH in a 25MPH, and similarly 45MPH in a 35MPH. So although the speed limit is explicitly 25MPH, implicitly it is 10MPH greater. Do you really want people driving 45MPH through your neighborhood? I doubt it.
Todd Bainer November 16, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Besides Route 1, Cedar is the most trafficed road in Branford according to traffic studies [10,000 vehicles dailey]. There is a school zone with 25 mph limit. The police refuse to enforce it. Nobody stops at the signs at Rose and Cedar, and there will actually be a police car in the St. Mary's parking lot waiting to go off shift at 8 a.m. watching all this and doing nothing. We have tractor trailers speeding down the street at 3-4 a.m. Nothing is done by police. And Cedar has had multiple fatalities at Route 1 and Cedar. So, the fact they they are doing anything on Damascus is surprising. They should prioritize. Somebody on Damascus must have some connections with police to get enforcement. Oh, I forgot, one detective lives on Damascus. There is your answer.
Maureen Dixon November 16, 2011 at 05:47 PM
I live off of Short Beach Road and am disgusted by the way people drive in my neighborhood. Be a speed demon on the interstate, I don't care, but chill out and show some respect in the neighborhoods. It's simply not worth the few MINUTES you shave off your commute if you hit someone's dog or kid! I've been tailgated by men and women, teenagers and senior citizens alike! I've been passed on a double yellow line of a curve and then caught up to the idiot who passed me at the first red light! It's inconsiderate, reckless and should not be tolerated, especially not where people live! I never had to deal with such rude drivers in Colorado or Oregon where neighborhood speed limits are also 25 mph.
David Minicozzi November 16, 2011 at 05:50 PM
They need a patrol car at the intersection of Main and Chestnut Streets near the new G-Zen Restaurant. There is a cross walk at that intersection which is perilous for pedestrians to use. Cars that approach the town center from the high school fly down the incline and into the center at terrifically dangerous speeds. Conditions are especially fraught at night, when the speeding cars cannot see anyone in the cross walk until it is too late. I am surprised no one has been killed at that intersection.
Addie Raucci November 17, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Addie Raucci A study most certainly should be done on Sybil Ave during the summer months when the traffic is heaviest. Drivers seem to think this short stretch is a speedway and it is incredibly dangerous for pedestrians and bikers as well. It has been a concern for many years and much worse now with the addition of The Blue Cottage. It is good luck that there hasn't been a serious accident here.

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