Photo courtesy of the Hingham Police Department
Hingham police have claimed a victory over drunk driving, at least for the Labor Day weekend, after increased patrols found relatively few unsafe drivers over the holiday.
Out of 106 traffic stops from Thursday night to Monday night, only one driver – a 68-year-old woman from Stoneham -- was arrested for OUI alcohol.
For the others, a total of 46 citations were given, with 36 cited for speeding. Among the other citations were one for a suspended license, three for driving without a license (including two motorcycles), one arrested on an outstanding warrant, and one cited for driving to endanger.
Additionally, several drivers were cited for excessive noise (spinning tires), following too close, failure to stay within marked lanes, and red light violations.
Other drivers were given warnings for marked lanes violations and defective equipment.
Compared with last year, though the patrol doubled for 2012, the numbers mostly decreased. While no drivers were cited for OUI in 2011, that year out of 92 traffic stops, 62 citations were handed out, with 10 seat belt violations.
The reduction in citations, coupled with a low number of drunk driving arrests, is promising, Hingham Police said.
“It was a success,” said Sergeant Steven Dearth. “Only one person out of 106 was intoxicated, and we know that for a fact. I think that’s encouraging. That’s a good sign. The statewide promotions, TV ads, radio, and we put that billboard up there [helped get the word out].”
According to Dearth, although the goal of the $3000 grant, given to the town by the State Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, is mainly to combat drunk driving around the Labor Day holiday, its secondary goal is to ensure safe driving overall.
“Dangerous driving – seatbelts and aggressive driving … is secondary because that’s how you stop a drunk drivers,” Dearth said.
Even there, most infractions were minor, and most drivers were wearing seatbelt – only 7 drivers and passengers were not belted when stopped.
“While not scientific, this may indicate a high compliance rate of seat belt use in our area. We have focused on increasing seat belt enforcement and education over the last 2 years to increase usage-with the continuous goal of reducing injuries from crashes,” Dearth said.
However four children, two of whom were under five-years-old, were not belted or restrained at all. Because the number of children in cars is most likely reduced during the patrol period – which started at 6 p.m. – the figures are troubling.
“I would have thought if we did a traffic work during the day we would have encountered more children buckled … but four children that weren’t buckled up – that’s a concern,” Dearth said.
Even still, police were able to educate those people, who will hopefully change their behavior after paying the fine.
Overall, although Labor Day is one of the most dangerous holidays for driving, Hingham remained safe, Dearth said.
“The federal government says that nationwide, 42 people die every day on Labor Day compared to 28 people that die on a regular weekend from drunk driving. If you look at that nation wide, Labor Day is a more dangerous weekend, and for whatever factors it wasn’t [here]…maybe people avoided Hingham or we were out there [so people didn’t take the risk]…but the end result is Hingham was safe and it was safe to drive in Hingham this weekend,” Dearth said.