Police Reduce Crash Numbers With New Focus On Traffic Enforcement

Aug 5, 2019, 5:59 PM | Updated: Aug 6, 2019, 10:02 am

PROVO, Utah – After seeing a large rise in the number of car crashes, the Provo Police Department began taking a data-driven tactic last summer. The city has cut the number of crashes as a result.

“The intent is not to go and write a whole bunch of tickets,” said Sgt. Nisha King, a spokeswoman for the department. “But, our presence alone, hopefully, will tell motorists to be more careful.”

A year ago, the police chief noticed the number of crashes kept rising, as it has in many communities. The department started to show motorists where the crashes were happening, and where officers were focused on enforcement.

“It’s preventative. It’s education,” said Master Officer Ken Newell.

As part of a traffic enforcement team, Newell sets up in areas where they regularly see distracted drivers, motorists rolling through stop signs, and speeders.

“This road we are on right now – I can get people at 45 miles per hour all day long,” he said, running radar enforcement on 500 West.

Newell pulled over a couple of motorists exceeding the speed limit by more than 20 mph, as part of the targeted enforcement.

“It’s being in an area where we know that there is a target problem, and being in that area so that we’re seen,” he said.

Often he pulls off in an area where they see a lot of crashes, turns his lights on and sits for an hour.

“Everybody sees the red and blue lights. They slow down and start to pay attention because nobody wants that ticket,” said Newell.

Every Sunday at 8 p.m., the department posts a traffic enforcement focus map on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that pinpoints crashes from the previous week.

“As most cities, traffic accidents were on the rise,” said King.

The post tips off motorists to where police will focus enforcement that week, all based on traffic statistics from the week before.

“Since the new approach, there hasn’t been a crash today at all, yet,” said Newell. “Normally, we would have two or three by now.”

The police department has had better compliance from motorists, leading to more than a 10% reduction in crashes in one year.

“Ten percent is definitely a success,” said King.

“We’re trying to change behavior. That’s the important part of everything,” said Newell.

It’s not about writing a lot of tickets, said King.

“We’re letting them know, ‘Hey, we’re out there. This is what we’re looking for. This is what’s going on in our community, so please be aware. Put your seatbelt on. Put your phones down. Focus on the roadway. Slow down a little bit,’” said King.

Newell said it makes a difference to residents in their neighborhoods.

“It changes their quality of life,” he said. “They know you care. They know that you care about their problem, and it’s a problem that you’re willing to try and resolve.”

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Police Reduce Crash Numbers With New Focus On Traffic Enforcement