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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Speeding a Problem

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A new federal report show there are speeding problems on the country’s major highways, but the problems are also on Westport’s roads.

A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association states the speeding problems on highways are as bad as drunken driving was 25 years ago.

According to the report, the percent of highway crashes related to speed has gone from 30.9 percent in 2001 to 33.7 percent in 2003 in Connecticut. The number of speeding tickets, however, has gone down by about 10,000 in the same time period.

Police Chief Al Fiore said speeding is also a problem on Westport’s roads, but it’s also a problem in every suburban community across the state.

“Cities have different safety concerns, but in places like Westport speeding and traffic is the number one complaint,” he said. “There’s an increase in traffic and discourteous drivers in Fairfield County.”

Many people think they need to get to their destination as fast as they can, Fiore said, so they will do all they can to get there faster whether it’s speeding or running red lights.

Also, the cars on the market today rid and perform better, he said, and that contributes to higher speeds.

“People feel they can drive faster because they have better cars,” he said.

Many people on the road are driving, on average, five to seven miles per hour over the speed limit, Fiore said, but officers can’t stop all of them.

“If we stopped all the people who were going five miles per hour over the speed limit, we wouldn’t have time to do anything else,” he said.

There are a lot of people, however, driving 10 or 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, he said, and those are the ones who are consistently being pulled over.

“Just the other day we had someone going 64 in a 35 mile per hour zone,” he said. “Some are to an extreme.”

Police do as much select enforcement as they can while they are on regular patrols, Fiore said.

There is also one cruiser that does not have lights on the roof of the vehicle although it has police markings, he said.

“It doesn’t stick out,” he said. “It’s almost like an unmarked car. You don’t realize it’s a police car until you get close.”

Fiore said the department also helps approve speed humps each January.

That effort, although it slows down traffic and reduces cut-through traffic, it is primarily done on residential roads that do not have a lot of traffic like the major roads, he said.


Posted 12/28/05 at 12:00 PM  Permalink


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I’ve heard that the reason local police departments do little to enforce the speed limit is because local towns and cities do not get any of the revenue resulting from fines levied by speeding convictions; that the fines go to the state. Is this true?

The reason I’m wondering is because I’ve seen police officers spend a lot of time ticketing cars for parking too long on Parker Harding Plaza, yet totally ignoring the cars speeding down Parker Harding at better than 30-40 mph. I’ve seen the same type of thing happen in Norwalk down in SoNo.

It seems to me that the serious speeding problems in Westport and elsewhere won’t get dealt with until we start seeing some kind of a low- or zero-tolerance policy enacted by the towns, which means seeing lots of people getting tickets for speeding until drivers are “re-educated.”

Posted by Lee Fleming on December 28, 2005 at 08:39 PM | #