On January 9, 2011 the Methuen Police Department is launching a major traffic safety program, which will focus on a multi-tiered approach to dealing with various traffic safety issues. The tiers will encompass Awareness, Education and Enforcement initiatives.
Throughout the years citizen complaints about speeding cars, erratic operation and dangerous drivers have always been a constant concern. Of lately the complaints of citizens and the observations of officers of these behaviors have increased in frequency.
The Traffic Safety Task Force will be comprised of three officers and a sergeant who will coordinate the department wide initiative. They will focus fulltime on the reduction of traffic violations throughout the city. The officer’s actions will center on awareness and education both on the streets, in community meetings and in educational settings, and supplemented with enforcement actions.
Being aware of your surroundings seems as natural as walking, talking or breathing. However, in the fast paced society we live in and with all the distractions such as cell phones, PDA’s, multitasking and of course having children with you, awareness of your surroundings in many cases gets lost. When coordinating many different activities or thinking about what you are going to do next the brain places you on “autopilot” and tunnel vision can set in. An example of this is you enter your car to drive to a destination only to arrive there and not remember the specific route you drove.
I bring this point out to demonstrate that you have to consciously make an effort to be aware. Driving your car can be dangerous when you are on auto pilot and not aware of your surroundings.
Officers will be watching for these situations when patrolling and they will make this a priority when dealing with traffic violators. They will point out these behaviors that have become so second nature that we become oblivious to how these actions affect our abilities to operate our cars safely.
Officers will be utilizing public messaging to get the word out. This will be done in various ways, such as using messaging boards, handouts, city website, City Connect Ed phone calls, MPD Blog and MPD Twitter.
Education is a primary way to influence someone’s behavior. The Traffic Safety Task Force Officers will be teaching, instructing and holding public educational forums all through the city. They will be teaching at driver education schools that our children attend. They will be working with our school system to speak at and instruct during school events. They will be attending public locations including neighborhood meetings, public meetings and the Methuen Senior Center. They will use educational materials and information while conducting motor vehicle enforcement.
The Traffic Safety Task Force officers working hand-in-hand with Patrol Officers will be blanketing the city with traffic enforcement blitzes. Traffic enforcement will be conducted in teams, in marked unit patrols, in un-marked cruiser patrols, on motorcycles, and utilizing various other methods of observation that will be covert in nature. The initial goal of these enforcement actions is to educate and correct behavior not to be punitive in nature. During the first phase of this initiative, education will be the first choice followed by enforcement when deemed necessary by the officer. As we move forward thru this initiative civil enforcement actions will increase.
Be aware and be safe!
Labels: Traffic Safety