Improving Weather Brings Heightened Traffic Enforcement

Now that the long, cold winter of 2014 is coming to an end and spring weather is emerging, motorists are driving more.

That increase in traffic means that town police are stepping up their motor vehicle enforcement to address the added traffic volume on local roads.

For example, on March 18, town police stopped about 55 motorists in various locations around town to check for possible motor vehicle violations.

The 45-member police department has a specialized traffic enforcement unit that uses a motorcycle and an unmarked white Dodge Charger sedan for traffic enforcement duty. The normal complement of the traffic unit is two people, but it is now staffed with one person because the other member recently was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Police Chief Michael Kehoe said March 18 that he expects to assign another officer to the traffic unit.

Besides radar-based and laser-based speed detection devices, police also have a marker-plate sensor device that photographs the marker plates on passing vehicles to learn whether those marker plates are linked to any pending motor vehicle violations or criminal violations, based on the contents of a police database.

Chief Kehoe said town police will soon join with police from other towns to conduct a regional enforcement project that seeks to find motorists who are illegally texting while driving. Police conducted such a texting enforcement project last year.

Chief Kehoe said that town police will be enforcing motor vehicle laws concerning distracted driving, speeding, traffic signal violations, stop sign violations, aggressive driving, and tailgating, among others.

Also, police will seek to enforce laws on the use of crosswalks, he said. State law requires that motorists yield to pedestrians who are standing in crosswalks and waiting to cross the street.

Also, police may resume their study of traffic and pedestrian safety at Fairfield Hills, he said.

“We are committed to making the streets and roads of Newtown as safe as they can possibly be,” he said.

Town police will conduct a series of sobriety checkpoints during 2014, he said. Such enforcement projects, which town police have conducted for many years, seek to remove drunken and drugged drivers from local roads.

Lieutenant George Sinko, who oversees police operations, said police will again be using their large radar-based speed display in an effort to hold down driving speeds.

The trailer-mounted device has large illuminated numerals that indicates motorists’ speeds as they drive toward it. It also has a sign indicating the legal speed limit in the area where is located.

The speed display is typically positioned in areas which have heavy traffic and many accidents, Lt Sinko said.

Regular motorcycle patrols for traffic enforcement are expected to resume when weather conditions and pavement conditions improve.

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