WORCESTER – Traffic citations went up 30 percent in Worcester from 2017 to 2018, according to the Worcester Police Dept.
Data released ahead of Tuesday night’s City Council meeting shows that 9,194 traffic citations were issued in 2017 and 12,009 citations were issued in 2018 — an increase of 2,815.
The Worcester Police Dept. [WPD] Traffic Division reported that over the same time period, there was an 86 percent increase in speeding tickets (2,348 in 2017; 4,371 in 2018), a 21 percent increase in red light violations (246 in 2017; 299 in 2018) and a 360 percent increase in stop sign violations — 88 in 2017 compared with 317 in 2018.
So what sparked the increase? According to WPD Chief Steve Sargent, the re-organization of the department’s Traffic Division in Dec. 2017 is responsible for the increase in issued citations.
In a communication to City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr., Sargent said, “Since its inception, the Traffic Division has focused on specific areas of the city using high visibility enforcement campaigns against speeding, red light violations and aggressive and distracted drivers.”
According to the City, the purpose of the re-organization was to dedicate a team officers specifically focused on traffic issues and traffic enforcement. Before the reinstatement of the traffic division, only a small group of officers from the Operations Division focused on traffic enforcement — and these officers were also responsible for responding to service calls during their shifts.
The new Traffic Division is under the supervision of Lt. Timothy Walsh and geared primarily to enforce traffic laws. The Traffic Division is comprised of the Crash Reconstruction Unit, a Truck Team and traffic enforcement officers.
“The purpose of adding these officers to form a new Traffic Division is to create a safer environment for all pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists using the roadways and sidewalks throughout the city,” Sargent said.
The Crash Reconstruction Unit is responsible for investigating all motor vehicle crashes that result in serious bodily injuries or fatalities. In 2018, there were 11 fatalities investigated by this unit, according to Sargent.
The Truck Team conducts commercial inspections and enforcement and perform evaluations to determine and resolve the major issues surrounding truck traffic.
In a communication to the City Council, Augustus said, “The Worcester Police Department’s Traffic Division is a big part of our efforts to create a safer environment on all of our streets and sidewalks.”
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