Traffic Enforcement

Traffic Safety Enforcement is an important aspect of community policing in the Town of Harvard. We constantly stride to improve the quality of life here in Harvard and thus we have a strict traffic enforcement policy. To aid the public in understanding the importance of maintaining a safe speed in our commnity, the following chart was devised.

How long would it take to stop your vehicle?

SPEED

LENGTH OF SKID

TRAVELING (Velocity)

25 mph

32 feet

36.67 Feet per Second

30 mph

46 feet

44.00 Feet per Second

40 mph

82 feet

58.67 Feet per Second

50 mph

128 feet

73.33 Feet per Second


Crash involving excessive speed and drugs on RTE 110 Ayer Road

MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT

Most people have experienced the “oh no” feeling after seeing a police car in the rear view mirror. Most people hit their brakes, even if they were not speeding. Personal physical reactions and experiences can influence perceptions of traffic enforcement efforts, and often prevent people from realizing its true benefits.

Traffic enforcement is the most recognizable and universal police function. Marked police cars are easy to see and most Americans have been stopped for a traffic violation. Because of the punitive consequences attached to traffic enforcement, many do not have an appreciation for the positive benefits. Additionally, “myths” can result from misconceptions about the goals and motivations of traffic enforcement.

We need to dispel the myths and know the facts.


MYTH

All police officers enforce traffic laws.

FACT

Because traffic enforcement is so visible, the public perceives that there are a large number of officers enforcing traffic laws. Some agencies have a few officers dedicated to traffic enforcement. However, in most agencies, traffic enforcement is one of many responsibilities most officers perform.


MYTH

Traffic officers just write speeding tickets.

FACT

Speeding is a serious offense when you examine the facts:

Contributing Factors to Fatal Crashes

  • Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limits
  • Source: Traffic Safety Facts 1995, U.S. Department of Transportation

FACT

Speeding is one of the most common offenses committed by the aggressive driver.

Contributing Factors to Fatal Crashes

  • Operating vehicle in erratic, reckless, careless, or negligent manner
  • Source: Traffic Safety Facts 1995, U.S. Department of Transportation

FACT

Traffic officers remove impaired drivers from the road.


Alcohol-Related Fatal and Injury Crashes

  • 41% Alcohol-related: 15,386 of 37,221 fatal crashes
  • 9% Alcohol-related: 195,000 of 2,166,000 injury crashes

FACT

Traffic officers enforce occupant protection laws.

Fatalities and Injuries: Occupant Protection Usage

  • Occupants wearing safety belts: 2,357,000 of 3,112,000 injuries
  • Occupants not wearing safety belts: 19,099 of 31,897 fatalities
  • Source: Traffic Safety Facts 1995, U.S. Department of Transportation


MYTH

Traffic problems are not that big of a deal.

FACT

The average American is more likely to be involved in a traffic crash than be a victim of a crime.

Crime/Crash Clock 1995

  • One murder every 24 minutes
  • One aggravated assault every 29 seconds
  • One violent crime every 18 seconds
  • One crime every 2 seconds
  • One property crime every 3 seconds
  • One fatality every 13 minutes
  • One injury every 9 seconds
  • One crash every 5 seconds
  • One property damage every 7 seconds
  • Source: Traffic Safety Facts 1995, U.S. Department of Transportation, Crime in the United States, U.S. Department of Justice

MYTH

If I am injured in a traffic crash, it affects only me.

FACT

Everyone pays for traffic crashes and the economic costs are significantly more than crime. In 1995, crashes cost Americans $150 billion. In 1993, personal and property crimes cost Americans $19 million (Source: The Economic Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes 1994, U.S. Department of Transportation, Criminal Victimization in the United States 1993, U.S. Department of Justice).


MYTH

Police officers should be arresting criminals, not writing traffic tickets.

FACT

Traffic enforcement regularly identifies criminals and results in their apprehension.

A license plate violation resulted in the apprehension of the suspect in the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. During 1994, traffic enforcement stops in Grand Prairie, Texas accounted for 66 percent of all warrant arrests and 50 percent of the arrests made for non-traffic related offenses.

In Peoria, Illinois, during 1994 and 1995, an increase in traffic enforcement contributed to a six percent decrease in  violent crimes and a 12 percent decrease in crashes.


FACT

Drugs, weapons, contraband, fugitives, and illegal aliens are frequently found in vehicles during “routine” traffic stops.

During routine traffic stops in Harvard, numerous suspects were taken in custody for warrants, fugitives from justice

Illegal Possession of Drugs, Suspects wanted in numerous house and business breaks in town and surrounding communities.


Support Traffic Enforcement

When you see a car pulled over, remember that the law enforcement officer may be doing more than writing a traffic citation. The officer may be apprehending a felon, child molester, or a murderer, or removing weapons and drugs from your community.

Traffic enforcement can and does contribute to the quality of life in your community.

  • Communities can realize the benefits of traffic enforcement and highway safety efforts;
  • Roads and neighborhoods will be safer;
  • Police agencies can effectively police their communities; and
  • Highway safety partners will recognize similar goals and develop cooperative efforts.