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.