Local police crack down on Hall Road traffic

In one month, police issue more than 1,300 traffic citations

By: Eric Czarnik, Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 9, 2015


UTICA/SHELBY TOWNSHIP — During the month of October, local police departments joined forces to launch a traffic enforcement program on Hall Road and M-59 in response to numerous complaints of aggressive driving.

The campaign was designed to raise awareness of safe driving, with the hectic holiday shopping season setting in, in order to reduce crashes.

Police said they wanted to launch the initiative before Black Friday, when congestion from holiday shopping at the many retailers along Hall Road might have fueled frustrations.

Beginning Oct. 1, police in Shelby Township, Utica, Sterling Heights, Clinton Township and Chesterfield Township partnered with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office to write a total of 1,343 traffic citations.

Infractions included running red lights, distracted driving and speeding 15-20 mph over the posted speed limit, police said.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Dave Smith said that drivers became more compliant with traffic laws, and the enforcement appeared to have a positive effect.

Smith said police put out visible radar trailers and made prior announcements of the enforcement campaign, so the goal was not to pounce on or trick drivers.

“The vast majority of our citations were for speed,” said Lt. Jeff Daniel, who oversees the Shelby Township Police Department’s traffic bureau. “One of our sergeants issued a (citation to a) driver for going 101 mph in a 45 mph zone.”

Daniel said that from what he understood, the driver in question was involved in a drag race near the Art Van Furniture on Hall Road, just east of Schoenherr Road.

Daniel said police have done similar traffic enforcement details in the past, but not for some time because of low personnel numbers.

“This time of year we’re seeing a lot of distracted driving and a lot of tailgating, which leads to some of our leading rear-end accidents,” Daniel said.

He said that going into the season of winter storms and bad weather, it is especially important to drive safely and slow down.

“Everybody just needs to be patient,” he said. “Give yourself an extra 10 minutes when you’re going to go somewhere, and enjoy the holiday season.”

Daniel said he has never told any of his traffic officers to write tickets to make money. He said he would rather write tickets and hopefully persuade people to drive slower than call the Fire Department to cut them out of their vehicles.

Utica Police Chief David Faber said his department has seen a definite increase in the number of traffic crashes in the last two years. He attributed almost all of them to Hall Road in some way.

“When this idea came up about getting out there and targeting the speeders and aggressive drivers and such, we thought that was what we needed to do to help some of these traffic crashes,” Faber said.

Utica police, he said, issued tickets and warnings primarily to drivers who were speeding and texting while driving. Some of the traffic stops resulted in arrests for drugs and, in one instance, an illegal possession of a firearm, Faber said.

“We’re not looking to write tickets. We want to spread the awareness to slow down and pay attention,” he said. “Everywhere you go, you see the aggressive driving.”

Faber said it did not seem that long ago that Hall Road was just a five-lane road. Now, as a boulevard with four lanes each way, he said he couldn’t imagine what traffic would be like if the road hadn’t been upgraded.

“We hope that (the positive effects produced by the campaign will) last as long as possible,” Smith said. “We don’t want to see people get hurt for speeding and breaking the law.”

To report dangerous or aggressive drivers, call the Shelby Township Police Department at (586) 731-2121 or the Utica Police Department at (586) 731-2345, and dispatchers will work to send an available unit to the area.