FLUSHING — Flushing officials said that they have seen positive impacts with traffic enforcement in the city since starting an anti-speeding campaign this year.
For the past 10 weeks, Flushing Mayor Joseph Karlichek ran a social media campaign to raise awareness about the city’s ramped up traffic enforcement efforts and the importance of heeding speed limits. As part of the campaign, he also shared statistics about traffic crashes and gathered input from residents on where speeding has been most problematic in Flushing.
Karlichek said that the campaign has generated considerable discussion among Flushing residents and promoted feedback between citizens and Flushing City Council.
“Since the campaign started, there’s been several citizens who’ve reached out to me expressing their satisfaction with the results that they are seeing personally driving through town,” he said. “Some of them have also asked if we can come into their subdivisions (to monitor speeding).”
Along with promoting safe driving, the Flushing City Police Department has increased its presence on the streets. From September 2020 through May 24, 2021, Flushing Police conducted 1,851 traffic stops—a considerable increase from the 269 traffic stops the department made in the same nine-month period from 2019 to 2020.
Flushing City Police Chief Mark Hoornstra said that the hiring of new staff, including a fulltime officer last October and two part-time officers in April, has contributed to the rise in traffic stops.
“We didn’t have the staff before to really dedicate that much time to speeding, but (adding) one person makes a big difference,” he said. “With the extra part-timers that we have and the full-time position, we’re now in a position where we can dedicate more resources. I think it’s quieted the city down a little bit.”
Hoornstra said that the increase in traffic stops has also led to the apprehension of serious offenders, including a driver who was busted on narcotics and weapons charges on March 13 and a trio of out-of-state car theft suspects on April 1.
Aside from speed limit enforcement, traffic stops are helping to make the streets safer for drivers and pedestrians, which Hoornstra said is especially important given recent upticks in deadly crashes statewide.
According to a report from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), crash fatalities rose 35 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. Serious injuries also increased by 27 percent and total crashes were up four percent
“We can’t eliminate all crashes through speed enforcement, as some crashes have other causations that are difficult to control,” Hoornstra said. “But if cars are driving slower, then the severity of crashes can be reduced. By going slower, it gives you more time to recognize the hazards and pedestrians who might be in front of you.”
Karlichek said that the city will continue to engage with citizens about speeding problems and promote traffic safety awareness throughout the summer months.
“Our message is simple: Don’t come into the city and commit a crime or drive like a reckless lunatic through our community, particularly in our subdivisions,” he said. “Let’s set the example for being a safe town, with our citizens involved in the process.”