When do police most often pull over drivers? And for what?

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The day before the Fourth of July produced the fifth-highest daily count of traffic stops last year in Connecticut.

This is according to traffic-stop data from the Office of Policy and Management, which is available because of a law compelling law enforcement agencies to electronically submit their traffic-stop information. Analysts have looked at the data and said they found significant racial disparities in some municipal departments and State Police troops.

But there is still more to discover in such a rich data set.

So TrendCT took a deeper look at the nearly 600,000 tickets issued in Connecticut between October 2013 and September 2014. We’ll be running several stories looking at various parts of the data. But today, we’re looking at when police most often pull drivers over — and for what.

When are you most likely to get pulled over?

We’ll start with the raw totals throughout the year.

It’s easier to see why some days have such a high tally, given their proximity to federal holidays. More people on the road means more opportunities for citations.

But a couple of days in May and September are among the 10 days with the most traffic stops. If anyone knows why those days in particular seem to yield a high number of tickets, let us know in the comments below.

Daily average number of tickets
Based on the first seven days, the last seven days, and the days between of each month.
First week Middle weeks Last week
6,333 6,453 6,764
CTData Collaborative

Those high-volume days, plus Memorial Day and Labor Day, make September and May the heaviest months of the year for drivers getting pulled over.

The colder months of February and December are periods when police stop drivers the least.

More stops occur on average during the last seven days of the month versus all other days. In fact, days during the last week of the month yield about 400 more traffic stops on average than days during the first week.

What are drivers most often ticketed for?

More than 25 percent of all drivers getting pulled over in Connecticut were speed-related, making it the top offense.

Interestingly, cell phone use while driving is the category with the fourth-most stops. It was introduced as a violation in 2005. The state police pulled drivers the most for this violation (15,718 tickets), followed by Danbury and Wallingford (2,465 and 1,339 respectively).

The generic “Other” is the second-most-common reason drivers get stopped. “Other” could refer to things like violating exhaust emission inspection requirements and driving without a license.

But looking more closely, about 48 percent of all “Other” traffic stops were for “failure to observe parkway or expressway restrictions“. This could be interpreted as a way for officers to ticket drivers for exceeding the speed limit, but without the higher fines and consequences of a speeding ticket.

What do you think?

  • mathlady

    Perhaps the early September ones coincide with the start of school in many areas?

    • Don

      This is correct. Most departments beef up enforcement inside school zones for the first week of school.

  • RuthGT

    Federal grants to support state/local enforcement efforts are generally available around holidays. Perhaps similar grants were available during those May/Sept dates?