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Even as Manteca Police step up moving violation ticketing, traffic deaths atr at near record levels
A crumpled 2003 Honda wrapped around a sign pole in front of the Bank of Stockton in the 700 block of North Main Street following a November 2018 accident.

Fears of losing your life or a loved one to a criminal in Manteca is not nearly as great as simply driving, bicycling or walking around town.

There have been two homicides this year through the end of July. That compares to five traffic fatalities on city streets. That excludes Thursday’s train fatality.

And when it comes to being injured, there have been 65 assaults in the first seven months of 2020 compared to 105 injury accidents.

Overall accidents are down 6.61 percent dropping from 569 through July 2019 to 520 the first seven months of this year. That number is tempered by the fact accidents dropped 22 percent during April — the strictest lockdown month of the pandemic that also saw overall crime drop 50 percent.

And while the city doesn’t track financial losses due to traffic accidents, it isn’t that difficult to frame the 2.5 accidents that happened on a typical day through July 31 to warrant a response from Manteca Police as being much more costly to citizens than crime.

As of July 31, criminals have stolen property in Manteca valued at $3,201,131 with almost half or $1,603,163 being recovered. The data, just like that for traffic accidents, is gleaned from monthly crime recap reports compiled by the Manteca Police Department.

Based on data posted by the Insurance Information Institute from 2018 — the last year accident loss information for the United States overall was available — an average accident incurred $3,574 in collision losses. In injury related accidents, the average financial cost related to medical services including treatment and ambulance costs was $15,785 per injury accident.

Traffic accident loses

at $3.5 million plus

vs. crime losses at $1.6M

Based on 520 accidents in Manteca so far this year   the collision losses are at $1,858,480. There were 256 injury accidents. That means the losses based on the Insurance Information Institute data was another $1,657,425 million for medical related losses. Those figures do not include wage losses for missing work due to injuries. Nor does it include increased insurance premiums or catastrophic losses tied into fatalities, of which Manteca has had five through July, that easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Just between the average collision and medical, Manteca residents so far this year have lost at least $3.5 million last year opposed to $1.6 million from property crime.

Since the  traffic unit has been restored to 2009 levels of five officers in January, ticket writing for moving violations — speeding, running stop signs, distracted driving by texting and such, running red lights as well as similar offences that factor heavily into the cause of  traffic collisions — has increased significantly. There have been 1,292 tickets for moving violation issued in Manteca this year through July 31 compared to 1,420 for all of 2019.

 At the current pace the MPD is on target to write as nearly as many moving violations they did back in 2009 when 2,511 tickets were issued. That was a year there were no fatality accidents in Manteca. There were 2,091 tickets issued in 2010, when the traffic unit was still at five officers through October. After that, 12 officers were laid off including two traffic officers.

Issuing tickets — that are considered as much education and enforcement — has a correlation with accident rates.

The year-end traffic numbers released by Manteca Police Department tallied a record 1,065 traffic accidents last year compared to 929 in 2018. That equates to 2.7 accidents every day in Manteca. The stats do not involve fender benders where the police did not respond.

The 10-year trend shows the last five years, have been the deadliest on city streets with 23 traffic fatalities from 2016 to 2019 compared to 6 in the previous six years.

Manteca population during that time went up 25.6 percent from 67,677 to 85,000 while overall accidents went up 67.1 percent going from 637 to 1,065 while injury accidents soared 128 percent going from 112 to 256. There was one fatality in 2010. There were 6 fatalities in 2019. Meanwhile tickets issued for moving violations plummeted 30 percent going from 2,511 in 2010 to 1,420 in 2019

Manteca for much of the past decade had only three officers dedicated to traffic enforcement.

Manteca’s strategy toward safer streets is dubbed the ‘Three E’s” — engineering, education, and enforcement.

Even if a more muscular traffic enforcement unit is put in place, given officers can’t be everywhere the most effective “E” in the long run to altering driving habits is engineering.

It is why the city staff has developed an updated traffic calming for neighborhood streets. Most of the strategies in the traffic calming policy aim at slowing down traffic.

Examples of traffic calming measures include:

*striping designed to narrow lanes and alert drivers. pedestrians and bicyclists.

*bicycle lanes to promote bicycle use and safety as well as slow down vehicles by making travel lanes narrower.

*Botts Dots with reflective markers to keep drivers on the right side of the road. They are especially useful on curves such as those found on North Powers Avenue.

*speed limit radar displays in conjunction with static speed limit signs in a bid to educate motorists of their speed and to encourage compliance. Deployment includes temporary radar trailers and solar powered speed limit signs.

*increasing traffic enforcement. As opposed to other measures it would be impossible to have in place 24/7.

*speed humps across the street that force motorists to slow down in order to cross. They would not be deployed on emergency response routes.

*speed lumps — basically three smaller speed hump — spaced to allow buses and emergency vehicles to straddle them by going down the middle of the road or toward the side of the road.

*speed tables that are a flat-topped speed hump of a longer length that can be used on emergency response routes.

*raised crosswalks that provide pedestrians with a sidewalk level street crossing. The raised crosswalks function as a speed hump of sorts while making pedestrians more visible to approaching motorists.

Other traffic calming devices include bulb outs, pedestrian islands, traffic circles, partial or full closure of streets, and stop signs.

Residents can put in motion a city inquiry into whether deploying  traffic calming devices on specific streets is justified.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email