HOLDEN, Mass. — Over the next several months, the Holden Police Department will be initiating their Summer Traffic Enforcement Program in an effort to both increase education on hot spot traffic issues around town and target common violations like lane and crosswalk violations, aggressive driving and speeding.
As part of the program, the Holden Police Department will be providing the public with a "violation of the month" through The Holden Daily Voice and local media, as well as on the electronic sign board on Main Street. During each month, the police will be watching for these specific violations.
"The town is growing, and we've seen our traffic grow exponentially over the years," said Lt. Dave Armstrong. "But we're an old town with an old street. I've referred to it as putting the space shuttle on the cat path, as Wachusett Regional High School is on this street, we're on this street, and the intersections on the roads are just not conducive to what people are trying to do now with the traffic patterns."
While Armstrong says the department understands that the traffic jams that develop on Main Street during heavy commuter hours are a source of frustration, he said that it's getting to the point where intersections such as Main at Salisbury and Shrewsbury and Main are becoming dangerous "because people aren't going by the lanes."
"We undestand they're outdated, but we don't have a third lane," he said. "If we were going to build Holden tomorrow, we would build an additional lane in there, but we don't have them. And what's happening is people are making their own lanes and it causes accidents."
Armstrong said that illegal use of breakdown lanes is becoming more prevalent, such as where Main St. meets Industrial Drive.
"It's against the law to pass at the right," he stressed. "Last week I pulled over a car that passed a cruiser on the right. It was a young driver, but he had his father sitting with him. It wasn't what I expected."
"We have cars that pass and are trying to squeeze in right before Leominster Credit Union. We understand there's going to be traffic, we understand things are delayed, but it's getting to a point where our officers have said we need to do more enforcement and direct it at these areas."
Another priority this month will be cross-walks.
"We start to see that slip later into the school year," Armstrong said. "People are good in September when the kids are back in school, and we do a lot of enforcement, but now we have to get back out there because the pool is open and the kids are out."
Armstrong said that what they don't want to see develop is a false sense of security in crosswalks.
"Some of our crosswalks are on busy streets, and it's a fine line. On some streets you get in a crosswalks and everybody stops, but you get in a crosswalk on 31 Highland St., and people just aren't paying attention."
The situation is made all the more dangerous with the prevalence of texting and driving, Armstrong said.
"All these laws are targeted everyday, but this program is to put more police officers on the street and in target areas," he added. "There's a real feeling in law enforcement that we need to tighten things up because of the amount of traffic and make things safer."
The increased enforcment on lane and crosswalk violations began on Jun. 25, and the Hot Spot Traffic Enforcement series will continue through the summer.