Cranbury’s Traffic Safety Bureau looks to be an early success

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The establishment of a Traffic Safety Bureau in Cranbury Township took some time, but since it began again in April, it has produced positive results.

In April of 2019, the Cranbury Police Department recorded a total of 733 motor vehicle stops. Meanwhile, in the same month of April in 2018, the department registered 155 stops, according to department officials.

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“At a budget meeting with the township in 2018, I made a promise to them that they would see a significant change with the bureau. In February of 2018 I told them it would take a while because we had to go through a process with the hiring of two new officers,” explained Cranbury Police Chief Rickey Varga. “This was a year process. The hard work of the township committee and myself has finally paid off. The numbers in April were phenomenal compared to the year before.”

Back in April of 2019, Cranbury Police Department officials announced that, with the addition of two new officers to the police force, the department had reassigned veterans Michael Cipriano and Jillian Dworzanski to the newly launched Traffic Safety Bureau.

“The idea of this all starts back in 2017 when Dave Cook was mayor. It was decided then that a Traffic Safety Bureau was the best way to approach the issues of traffic safety in town,” Varga said. “There is so much growth around us and growth within we had to address traffic safety.”

He said that years ago the police department did have a Traffic Safety Bureau but it only lasted for about six to nine months.

The police department will also be having several programs organized with the Traffic Bureau, they include a “Slow Down in our Town Campaign.”

“With that campaign we will have message boards and signs to target specific areas in town. It is a visual campaign to get people to slow down,” Varga said. “Ultimately we are looking for compliance. This is not about the number of tickets or stops we have. We want people to be cautious.”

Other programs are Pedestrian Crosswalk Education and Enforcement and Distracted Driving Enforcement, according to department officials.

Varga said there are traffic safety problem areas in town.

“I can’t just say they are east and west commuter roadways like Plainsboro Road and Cranbury Neck Road, because Main Street has it too. Some areas are just difficult,” he said. “That is why we hit North Main Street hard.”

The department is able to detect problem areas in town with a covert speed reader, which determines where the problem areas are and where enforcement needs to be.

“We analyze all the specifics we have both from our traffic complaint system and covert speed reader. That is how we attack and determine where we need enforcement the most,” Varga said. “In the last two months we have been increasing enforcement. We are using everything we can to make things a little safer.”

Cranbury Mayor James Taylor said he views the Traffic Safety Bureau as critical to town safety.

The bureau was critical as the only means to effectively improve safety is to provide active enforcement. Their actions have had an impact all over town and we’re proud of their efforts,” he said.

Taylor said he feels encouraged by the early data.

Not only are the numbers of stopped cars showing the patrols are working, but more importantly we’re noticing safer driving around the whole town even when the police are not visible,” he reported. “I was very pleased with their efforts the statistics showed they are serious. Since we will not be reducing our number of patrols I hope to see the numbers peak in the next two to three months and then decline.  If that occurs, then it will mean Cranbury is gaining a reputation for serious enforcement.”

Taylor explained that former Committee members Dave Cook and Susan Goetz should share in the Bureau success.

“The bureau was planned under Dave, Susan, Glenn (Johnson) and I. Dave and Susan should share in this success. Mike (Ferrante) and Matt (Scott) are now taking on new traffic initiatives and doing great work that will make the traffic program a continued success,” he said.

Varga said it is still early to gage the Traffic Bureau fully.

“All the data is still pretty raw and new to look at to be able to see how effective the departments efforts have been. Yes, the stops are up and that is great. It highlights how we are out being aggressive,” he said.

Varga said he ultimately wants to see drivers speed come down.

“When that happens, that is when I will be able to sit back, put a smile on my face and be able to say the Bureau has been a total success. I am extremely pleased to this point and I do not see why this won’t be a success moving forward,” Varga declared.

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