Archive for Thursday, May 19, 2005

Traffic ticket record broken

Police write up 549 violations in April

May 19, 2005, 12:00 a.m.

Updated: May 20, 2005, 3:52 p.m.

— Lansing Police officers cited motorists for 549 violations last month, the most ever in a one-month period in the city, Chief Steve Wayman said.

"Five hundred and forty-nine sounds like a lot of violations, and it is," Wayman said. "But they're not what I would call a cheap shot. We're not writing people for 2 or 3 miles over the limit. They're significant tickets."

The violations, which land motorists in Municipal Court, include speeding, drunken driving, driving on a suspended license, running stoplights or stop signs or any other traffic law violation imaginable, Wayman said.

"It wasn't any one area of town, either," he said. "There were a lot of areas that we were in."

While the total number of violations was a record, Wayman said he wasn't certain whether the total number of citations written by police was a record. Multiple violations can be recorded on a single citation.

Wayman said he didn't know whether it was a case of cause and effect or just coincidence, but as the number of tickets being handed out goes up, the number of traffic accidents on Main Street - the city's busiest thoroughfare - seems to be going down.

"We haven't had the accidents on Main Street that I can remember seeing," he said. "I don't know. I'd like to think it's because we're doing a really good job of enforcing the traffic laws."

Wayman credits his patrol officers for the record month, noting that they must carry out other duties while also enforcing traffic laws.

"It's not like we have traffic units. All the patrol officers serve as traffic unit patrol officers, first-responders, everything," he said.

Traffic enforcement and speeding have been topics of interest at a recent meeting and a recent study session of the Lansing City Council. City Administrator Mike Smith told council members he endorsed the "heavy enforcement" of traffic laws.

"I think we should," Smith said, "because traffic enforcement puts in people's minds that if you come through Lansing, you're going to be watched by the Police Department. That's exactly what we want."

As for avoiding tickets, Wayman gives this advice: Pay attention to your driving and obey the law.

"When it gets warm, people are soaking in the sunshine, enjoying the warm weather," he said. "Their mind may drift a little bit and not give full attention to the road, and before they know it they look down and realize they're going a little faster. They look down at the speedometer and they are going a little faster. Then the next thing you know, there's a police officer behind you."

Though as chief, Wayman rarely writes speeding tickets or traffic citations anymore, he does remember his days as a patrol officer. Often, he said, drivers would complain about being on the receiving end of a ticket.

"The question I always used to ask drivers was, if you're in your neighborhood, do you appreciate people speeding in front of your house?" he recalled. "Once they think about that, they think about their house and their kids playing out in the street. They know the answer is no."

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