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Most traffic tickets in Wichita issued in 2012 were for speeding

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at 9:28 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, June 9, 2014, at 7:54 a.m.

The most flagrant violator was going 118 mph in a 40 mph zone in the 7700 block of West 21st Street at 6:47 p.m. July 4. The 23-year-old driver of the green Suzuki motorcycle was fined $847 on a citation that included charges of reckless driving and driving with a suspended license.

The fastest speed – 135 mph – was recorded by a blue Suzuki that was stopped on the K-96 ramp at Webb Road at 11:10 p.m. June 7 in a 65 mph zone. The 28-year-old motorcyclist was fined $662 for speeding and a tag violation. A reckless driving charge was dismissed.

Those were just two of 26 drivers who were cited by Wichita police last year for traveling more than 100 mph in the city limits.

Wichita Municipal Court data from 2012 shows that speeding was the most common charge on the 65,898 traffic tickets that were issued for moving violations last year by Wichita police. Of the 89,084 individual charges, about 30 percent were for speeding.

Police also issued 15,557 parking tickets that accounted for 15,604 violations; about 29 percent were for parking meter violations.

The data shows that Kellogg was, as it has been for years, the top spot for speeding tickets last year. And as usual, downtown Wichita is where officers issued most red-light tickets.

The designation as the top spot for stop-sign tickets usually rotates from year to year, and the sign at Hillside and Ross Parkway was the leader last year. It generated 135 tickets – more than twice as many as were written at any of 715 other intersections that produced at least one stop-sign ticket.

The number of citations issued by police in 2012 was down more than 7 percent from the level of 2011, and Police Chief Norman Williams said unfilled vacancies in the department played a role in the decrease. But he also said the department’s traffic safety efforts devote a significant amount of time to education and no longer focus solely on ticket writing.

“We’re not just writing tickets for the sake of writing tickets,” he said. “We’re pretty specific when it comes to traffic enforcement.”

When officers do write tickets, Williams said, they are likely focusing on high-accident intersections and on problems that have been identified through the department’s Neighborhood Oriented Traffic Enforcement program, which encourages residents to alert police to potential traffic problems in their neighborhoods.

Williams said 24 people died in traffic accidents in the city last year, and he said the department has a responsibility to try to keep the number of traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities as low as possible.

Police Sgt. James Krok said it was the NOTE program that resulted in the stop-sign crackdown at Hillside and Ross Parkway in the city’s Planeview neighborhood.

Lt. Joe Schroeder said Wichita police officers don’t have ticket quotas, and officers are not required to cite every driver they pull over. But Schroeder, who has been enforcing traffic laws for 25 years, said warnings don’t always change driver behavior.

“Usually speeding is an automatic ticket,” he said of his own philosophy. “If they’re doing something dangerous, it’s an automatic ticket.”

Schroeder said a driver who commits a less serious offense and doesn’t realize that he or she has broken a traffic law may get off with a verbal warning. But he said tickets and fines are the best way to keep dangerous drivers off the road.

“If everybody obeyed the traffic laws, the number of collisions in the city would drop dramatically,” he said. “The only way to enforce traffic laws is to attach something negative to drivers who violate them. The negative attached to a traffic ticket is a fine.”

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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