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Speeding & a lot less ticket writing in Manteca

Speeding —  and general decorum on Manteca’s streets — if city leaders haven’t figured it out yet has been a hot button issue in Manteca for years.

Monday’s front page article noting that Manteca Police are writing significantly less tickets today than they did in 2009 drew a number of responses.

First, there is a need to correct a comparison regarding accidents in the first six months of both 2009 and 2018 compared to population. Manteca had 66,000 residents in 2009 and 81,450 today. With 351 accidents in the first six months of 2009 that translated into 1 in 188. The number for the same period this year was 454 or 1 in 179.3. The story stated “you are a bit less likely to be in an accident that merits a police response” when it should have said “you are a bit more likely.”

Another reader wasn’t thrilled the information about speeding tickets was published at all.

As stated in his email, “Why would you publish an article stating you are 83% less likely to get a speeding or failure to stop ticket in Manteca? We have enough speeders and stop sign runners already. Now we will have many, many more. You should think before you write.”

The point of comparing 2009 to 2017 is exactly for the reason the reader outlined. We already have numerous speeders and stop sign runners.

The three ‘E’s

Law enforcement for years have focused on the three “E”s of traffic safety — engineering, education, and enforcement. They have made it a point to note that ticket writing is big deterrent based on its education value, not to mention a hit in the pocketbook via enforcement. Simply saying 518 moving violations were issued in the first six months of this year would provide residents with no way to judge how much pressure is actually being put on speeding and other moving violations. The number of such tickets issued for January through June in 2009 was 2,054.

That’s a significant difference of 1,536 tickets. There are 15,000 more residents in Manteca and a corresponding increase in drivers that live here not to mention the increase in truck and other non-residential traffic yet Manteca Police are issuing roughly only a quarter of the number of tickets they did nine years ago.

No one wants to impose ticket quotas that are illegal anyway. But taking police at their word, tickets educate as much as they punish. That said there is a heck of a lot less educating and punishing going on when it comes to movements on city streets that have a significantly higher chance of you getting killed, maimed or suffering substantial financial losses than you do from felonies.

So if we want safer streets, we need police writing more tickets for moving violations. It is clear the exact opposite is happening once you compare the numbers. Is it a classic case of cause and effect?  It is something to give elected leaders and others pause when they argue the city is doing everything they can to combat speeding especially given they are doing 75 percent less of one of their three basic “E”s than they were in 2009.

Three dedicated traffic

officers today compared

to five back in 2009

Another reader was curious how many dedicated traffic officers Manteca had in 2009. The answer is five compared to three today.

Yearend stats show what kind of effect that is having. In 2009, there were 3,458 tickets issued for moving violations on the streets of Manteca. In 2017, there were 1,155.

An argument could be made that the reason speeding and such seems to be getting out of hand is people believe there are no consequences for what they do.

Stepped up enforcement efforts of traffic laws have a ripple effect especially when they are a highly visible daily occurrence and not sporadic. Almost all of us slow down when we see a CHP unit on the freeway but then we speed up when it is no longer in view. However in areas known for super vigilant speed enforcement, over time the “locals” – read that the majority of daily drivers on a particular route — start driving to protect their pocketbook.

People are still going to roll through stop signs. But if 600 people more a year get tickets for doing that stunt, rest assured word will get around it is pretty risky to do so in Manteca as you have a good chance of getting caught.

Another reader believes if the police write more tickets, we could hire more officers.  Tickets are a great educational tool but a lousy way for the city to earn money.

All traffic violations in Manteca that were issued in 2017 didn’t quite generate the money to cover the salary and benefits of one police officer. Less than 16 percent typically goes to the city. The rest goes to the state including a ton of add on charges based on the costs of the court. That said they are a great educational tool as it gives the driver cited an expensive reminder on traffic laws that are put in place to assure everyone’s safety.

 The fifth and final email was from a reader frustrated that two years ago he took a $3,000 hit when a car he had was hit while by a speeder that lost control while it was parked on the street. Due to the age of the car he didn’t have collision for his losses.

Losses from accidents

bigger than crime losses

There are more financial losses by far from automobile accidents in Manteca than property that is stolen once you subtract what property is recovered.

Setting aside whether he should have had insurance to cover such an occurrence beyond basic coverage, ponder for a second what happened in 2017 on the streets of Manteca.

*More people die in a given year in Manteca in traffic accidents than from homicide. Given most murder victims know their killers that means your chances of getting killed by a stranger are significantly greater driving, bicycling or walking down the street in Manteca than it is during the commission of a crime.

*There were 8.5 times more traffic collisions in Manteca during 2017 than aggravated assaults — 111 versus 946. That means your personal safety is jeopardized 850% more while driving, bicycling or walking than it is by criminals.

 *There was $2.8 million worth of property that was stolen in Manteca in 2017 that wasn’t recovered. Assuming a low-ball figure of $5,000 in losses per accident those 946 accidents in 2017 represent at least an economic loss of $4.73 million or 68 percent more than from property losses connected with crime.

If you really want to concentrate additional resources making Manteca a safer place to live and to protect people’s pocketbooks from wanton acts of others you should buff up traffic enforcement with dedicated police officers for that purpose.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email