Motor vehicle stops on the rise in Wilton

Motor vehicle stops by the Wilton Police Department are on the rise, and it’s no accident.

The Police Commission praised the higher number of motor vehicle stops at its meeting in June. First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice said the pullovers are effective and have the public’s support.

The only people who don’t like them are the ones who have been pulled over, she said.

“Interestingly enough, they had targeted areas, like the use of texting and cellphones while driving,” Vanderslice said. “I heard residents were very supportive of it. They themselves think it is a danger when they see someone texting and driving.”

Once someone has been pulled over, and perhaps been given a ticket, the hope is that they won’t do it again.

The increase in traffic stops this year is remarkable.

  • For the month of June, there were a total of 433 stops, compared with 385 in 2015.

  • For the month of May, there were 540 stops, compared with 553 in 2015.

  • In April, there were 656 stops, up from 505 the year before. Police targeted distracted driving this month.

  • March brought 547 stops, up from 318 the previous year.

  • There were 392 stops in February, up from 239 the previous year.

  • January brought 372 stops, up from 250 the previous year.

The difference between several years of stops is even more noteworthy.

There were 5,110 stops in all of 2015, compared with 4,764 in 2012, a 7% increase.

That gives Wilton the distinction of having one of the highest rates of traffic stops in Connecticut, according to the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University. It’s report on Traffic Stop Data Analysis and Findings for 2014-15 showed that with a driver population of 12,973 and 4,773 traffic stops, Wilton had the eighth highest rate of traffic stops — 368 stops per 1,000 residents.

For the report, released this spring, the institute analyzed 586,000 traffic stops conducted by Connecticut State Police and local police departments between October 2014 and September 2015.

The main reason for the pullover is traffic safety, said Chief Bob Crosby.

“Part of that is a crime deterrent because you’re seeing if that person has burglary tools or proceeds of a crime in the car or anything like that, but it’s traffic safety first,” Crosby said.

The pulled-over vehicles are a mix of town residents and those from out-of-town.

“Obviously, when we’re pulling people over, we don’t know if they are from town or out-of-town. We see a violation and we enforce it,” Crosby said.

Speeding and passing through stop signs are common violations. There are also a lot of distracted drivers, like those talking on cell phones and texting while driving.

“I think motor vehicle stops hopefully are keeping roads safer for residents of town,” Crosby said.