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Community Oriented Traffic Policing: Maine Police Seek to Reduce Traffic Crashes in the Long Term

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 29 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2002 Pages: 22-26
Christa Miller
Date Published
October 2002
5 pages
This article describes a traffic problem in Maine and the three-pronged plan used to alleviate it.
Route 111 is a 14-mile, two-lane commuter route that connects two major business and residential centers. From 1998 through 2000, 189 reported crashes--an average of 63 per year--occurred on one 10-mile stretch of Route 111. The most common types of crashes were rear-ends, sideswipes, and intersection movements. Most of the crashes occurred on “level straight” or “straight graded” road, when no traffic control devices were present and in daylight under clear weather conditions. About one-third of all crashes involved personal injury. The three-pronged plan, comprising Enforcement, Education, and Engineering, was undertaken in partnership with the Maine State Police, the Maine Department of Transportation, and the officials and residents of the town through which the road passes. The major stakeholders along the corridor of Route 111 were identified and drawn into discussions about solutions to the problem. The police adopted a zero-tolerance policy: only summonses would be issued to any violator, whether regular commuter or first-time visitor. Target violations, such as following too closely, illegal passing, and illegal intersection movements, were cited. Other enforcement activities include decoy cruisers parked on the roadside and electronic radar trailers that show drivers how fast they’re going. A pamphlet was designed detailing Route 111's “when, where, and how” accident statistics. The new initiative was explained to the media, and troopers and deputies blocked traffic in both directions to distribute pamphlets and discuss them with motorists. Town meetings are held regularly to update residents about the project. Engineering changes were initiated as a result of extensive assessment of traffic issues. Short-term fixes were a reduction in speed limit, traffic light re-timing, sign posting, and trimming view-blocking trees and bushes away at intersections and driveways. Longer-term issues may include incorporating passing lanes on certain stretches, and providing better access management. The effect of this initiative on the communities and on the agencies has been profound. The increased patrols are what the drivers have responded to most. There have been fewer crashes, less serious injuries, and no fatalities. A residual result has been improved interagency cooperation.