Park City police officers pull over drivers, write tickets at sharply increased pace
Traffic stops, citations climbed significantly in 2022, department statistics show
Park City residents have for decades worried about speeding drivers in their neighborhoods, the entryways and elsewhere.
And other sorts of moving violations, from failing to use a turn signal to improperly using a lane, seem to gnaw at them.
The Park City Police Department over the years has responded with stepped-up traffic patrols, the deployment of digital speed signs and other measures designed to address the speeding and traffic issues. And the traffic stops, highly visible, mounted.
Police officers in 2022 pulled over 3,681 drivers, according to the department’s annual report. The tally was the highest since 2018 and followed two consecutive years of the figure dropping below 3,000 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The 3,681 traffic stops amount to an average of approximately 10 per day, or one every two hours or so on each day of the year. There were times of heavy enforcement that could net more traffic stops over the course of several hours than the upward of 10-per-day average. There were also other stretches, especially in the early morning hours of the spring and fall shoulder seasons, when there were few drivers pulled over as traffic lightened.
The report shows officers issued 2,500 traffic citations, far more than the 1,616 in 2021 and more than double the 1,047 in 2020. The tally was fewer than 650 in both 2019 and 2018. The number of traffic offenses hit 3,977, the most since 2018. The number of traffic offenses is higher than the number of traffic stops and the citation tally since sometimes one traffic stop results in multiple offenses and not all offenses result in citations. Truck inspections, as an example, oftentimes result in multiple equipment violations in a single stop.
There are six officers and a sergeant assigned to the Police Department’s traffic team. The report says the team “has focused much of its efforts on the residential areas of Park City and will continue to do so.”
“Officers have been busy enforcing traffic in these areas to make the neighborhoods safer for pedestrian traffic in town,” the report also says. “Education, enforcement, and citizen involvement will continue to be the goal of the Traffic Team.”
Jay Randall, a police lieutenant who oversees community outreach, said officers are expected to “keep busy” on their shifts. The state, though, prohibits a law enforcement agency like the Police Department from using a quota system to track the number of tickets an officer writes. The Police Department did not operate under a quota system regarding traffic stops or tickets even before the state law went into effect in the spring of 2018.
Randall said police officers in 2022 were not instructed to write more traffic citations. Instead, he said, the dramatic increase in traffic stops and citations was a result of several factors. He said the Police Department added one officer to the traffic team, and Randall also noted Utah transportation officials lowered the speed limit on the S.R. 224 entryway, a stretch of road that is part of the state highway system but is heavily patrolled by the local agency. He said speed limits were lowered on certain municipal streets as well. The revised speed limits on the state highway and the City Hall-controlled streets were factors in the increase in traffic stops as drivers did not immediately adjust, he described. The traffic stop numbers also included commercial vehicles that were pulled over for safety-inspection purposes. The “vast majority” of drivers who were pulled over in 2022 were from outside Park City, Randall said.
Some of the other traffic-related numbers from the annual report include:
• 287 accidents, the lowest since 2020, when traffic was lighter in the early months of the pandemic, and significantly lower than the figures in 2018 and 2019.
• 29 vehicle impounds, up from the 19 the year before but down from 2018-2020.
• 62 cases involving suspected drunken driving, a figure that has trended down since 2018 other than the pandemic-influenced year of 2020, when the drop was especially pronounced.
A frequent question we get or myth we hear at the museum is about whether the Town Lift at Park City Mountain Resort used old infrastructure from the Silver King Coalition Mines aerial tramway system.
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