Traffic Safety Program
The Mission of the Traffic Safety Program is to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes that cause personal injury, death, and property damage.
We hope to accomplish this mission through voluntary compliance, education, and enforcement of the state traffic laws and the local traffic bylaws.
It is the responsibility of all the officers assigned to the Operations Division (patrol) to enforce the traffic laws and to educate the public about the traffic laws. They achieve this while on regular patrol, responding to citizen complaints, and via patrols directed by motor vehicle crash data.
If you wish to report a traffic-related problem please telephone the police department at 774-255-4527. Normally a patrol officer assigned to the sector in which the problem is occurring will handle the problem. More complicated traffic problems will be directed to the supervisor of the Traffic Safety Program.
We clearly understand that a safe and efficient road system is a quality of life issue among the residents and visitors of our town. Any input that will help accomplish our mission is welcomed and appreciated.
Motor Vehicle Crashes and the Three E’s: Engineering, Education, & Enforcement.
On a regular basis the Town and State review the number of crashes at certain locations to determine if the road needs safety improvements (road construction, traffic lights, signs, etc.). Information is also disseminated by the Falmouth Police Department and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) about the rules of the road with the goal that drivers will voluntarily obey the rules. If needed, traffic rules are enforced by the police via the use of citations.
Definition of a Crash
A “crash” is an avoidable motor vehicle collision. The word accident implies an occurrence completely beyond someone’s control. A crash is caused by factors such as excessive speed or impaired driving that almost always can be controlled by drivers.
Source: Massachusetts Governor’s Highway Safety Bureau
Moving/Stationary Traffic Radar
Each patrol vehicle assigned to a beat is normally equipped with a Kustom Signals Pro-1000DS Traffic Safety Radar System. The unit has two antennas; one is located in the front and the other is located in the rear of the patrol vehicle. Speed-readings can be obtained while the patrol vehicle is moving or stationary.
The speed trailer was purchased with a grant by the department and is available to perform traffic studies or to warn drivers of their speed in areas where speeding is a problem. The trailer does not take photographs or issue citations; it merely reminds drivers to be alert to their driving habits. If you have a speeding problem in your area please e-mail or phone the department and request the trailer be assigned to your street. (Please be advised that there is a waiting list for the trailer and major speeding problems take priority.)
Motor Vehicle Crash Data
Click here: Motor Vehicle Crash Data
Crime vs. Motor Crashes (2003)
16,503 murders in the United States vs.42,643 fatal motor vehicle crash deaths in the United States.
142 murders in Massachusetts vs. 462 fatal motor vehicle crash deaths in Massachusetts.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I receive traffic enforcement on my street?
Please call the police department at 774-255-4527 and give the communications personnel a detailed description of the traffic-related problem. Normally a police officer assigned to the sector in which the problem is occurring will handle the problem. Complicated traffic problems will be forwarded directly to the Traffic Safety Officer (Officer James Porter, 774-255-4527 ext. 4651, email).
Can a citation be issued to a violator if I am the only witness?
Yes, a police officer can issue a citation whether or not the offense occurred within his/her presence. However, the witness may be required testify before the court about the incident.
Can the police conduct traffic enforcement on private streets?
For the most part, traffic laws & regulations may not be enforced on private streets. There are a few exceptions; however, they are limited to criminal traffic offenses. Civil infractions (e.g., speeding) cannot be enforced on private streets.
What is the “speed trailer” and how can I request the “speed trailer” be set-up on my street?
The “speed trailer” is a piece of equipment the police department uses to education the public about the speed limit on a particular street in relation to the speed their motor vehicle is traveling. It is first set-up on the side of the road. While vehicles approach the “speed trailer” a traffic radar unit determines its speed and displays it on a large LED screen.
If you believe speeding is a problem on your street please call the police department at 774-255-4527 and give the communications personnel a detailed description of the speeding problem. If available, a police officer may be sent to your home to take the complaint. Next, request that your street be added to the “speed trailer” list.
How can I have a traffic-related sign “replaced” on my street?
Please call the Department of Public Works Highways and Parks Division at 508-457-2543.
Note: If your street has not yet been accepted by Town Meeting (i.e., private) the replacement of any signs on the street will not be authorized.
How can I have a “new” traffic-related sign erected on my street (public)?
The Traffic Advisory Committee must first review all new traffic-related sign requests. If the Traffic Advisory Committee believes the new sign will improve traffic safety, they will forward their recommendation to the Town Manager for final approval.
Traffic Advisory Committee website: click here
You may also mail your request to the address listed below:
Traffic Advisory Committee, Town Hall Square, Falmouth, MA 02540
Note (speed limit sign): If you wish to request a “speed limit” sign please refer to the special speed regulation (speed zone) questions.
How can I have a “new” traffic-related sign erected on my street (private)?
If your street has not yet been accepted by Town Meeting (i.e., private), new signs on the street will not be paid for by the town. If in agreement, the residents of a private street may erect traffic-related signs.
How can a “special speed regulation” (speed zone) be established?
The following are selected excerpts from the 2005 edition of the Massachusetts Highway Department’s Procedures for Speed Zoning on State and Municipal Roadways:
“Speed limits shall be established only after an engineering and traffic investigation has been conducted in compliance with established traffic engineering practices.”
“After a study has been completed, a special speed regulation is drafted and approved by the governing authority of the roadway, the Registry of Motor Vehicles and Massachusetts Highway Department.”
“The most important step is measuring the prevailing speeds of motorists on a particular section of a roadway under ideal conditions. The speed at or below which 85 percent of the motorists travel is the principle value used for establishing speed controls. This is commonly referred to as the 85th percentile speed. This method is based on numerous studies which indicate that the majority of motorists are prudent and capable of selecting safe speeds. The 85th percentile speed is the national standard for establishing safe speed limits.”
Important Note: Unless a minimum of 100 vehicles per hour travels the street during off peak hours, under ideal weather conditions, a special speed regulation (speed zone) will not be authorized.
Click here to review the Procedures for Speed Zoning on State and Municipal Roadways.
If my street does not qualify for a special speed regulation (speed zone) what can be done to make the street safe from speeding vehicles?
When available, police patrols can conduct traffic enforcement using the “basic speed law” (or the “fundamental speed law”). Please call the police department at 774-255-4527 and give the communications personnel a detailed description of the speeding problem. Normally a patrol officer assigned to the sector in which the problem is occurring will handle the problem. More complicated traffic problems will be directed to the Traffic Safety Officer (Officer James Porter, 774-255-4527 ext. 4651, email).
What is the “basic speed law” (or “fundamental speed law”)?
The Registry of Motor Vehicles (R.M.V.) Driver’s Manual states,
“… at all times, you must never travel faster than reasonable and proper for the current conditions and public safety.”
This includes traffic conditions, pedestrian conditions, road conditions, and weather conditions.
EXAMPLE: If you were driving 55 mph during a snowstorm on a highway with a posted speed limit of 55 mph, you could still be issued a citation for driving too fast for the current conditions.
In addition, according to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90 Section 17, unless otherwise posted, your speed would not be reasonable and proper if you were driving…
- · Over 20 mph in a school zone.
- · Over 30 mph in a thickly settled or business district.
- · Over 40 mph outside a thickly settled or business district.
- · Over 50 mph on a highway outside a thickly settled or business district.
NOTE: “Thickly settled or business district”, the territory contiguous to any way which is built up with structures devoted to business, or the territory contiguous to any way where the dwelling houses are situated at such distances as will average less than two hundred feet between them for a distance of a quarter of a mile or over. (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90 Section 1)
Can speed bumps be installed on my street?
If in agreement, the residents of a private street may purchase and install temporary style speed bumps. The speed bumps must be removed from the street during the winter months so that snow can be cleared from the street.
“Speed bumps” are not authorized on public streets in the Town of Falmouth. However, the residents of a public street may request that a “speed table” be installed. It should be noted that speed tables are for special circumstances only. At the present time only speed table has been installed in the Town of Falmouth and it does not appear any more will be approved.
How can I tell if a vehicle is traveling above the speed limit?
You must first understand some basic principles:
- Large vehicles such as dump trucks, trash trucks, and tractor-trailer rigs sometimes appear to be traveling faster then they may seem.
- Loud vehicles such as trucks, motorcycles, and some sports cars sometimes appear to be traveling faster then they may seem.
- Vehicles negotiating corners sometimes appear to be traveling faster then they may seem.
- Vehicles traveling on a narrow road sometimes appear to be traveling faster then they may seem.
Keeping these principles in mind, you should observe the traffic flow on your street. Traffic studies indicate that 85% of the public will travel at a reasonable and prudent speed. As you observe the traffic, it will usually be evident what the appropriate speed is for your street by judging the majority of the traffic.
You may also enlist a family member, friend, or neighbor to travel the road at the speed limit while you observe. This is a great method for you to learn what a particular speed looks like with a trusted party operating the vehicle.
How can an obstruction be removed?
The obstruction must first be examined. If the obstruction is illegal or creating a substantial safety risk the Town of Falmouth may request it be removed or remove it. (Reference: Town Of Falmouth By-Law, Chapter 199, Article II)
Can I drive a “golf cart” on a public road?
The operation of a “golf cart” on a public road is prohibited, except for the purpose of traveling from one part of a golf course to another part (M.G.L. C. 90. S. 9)
Operation of unregistered or improperly equipped motor vehicles, tractors, trailers, etc
Traffic Rules & Orders
Town of Falmouth Traffic Rules & Orders
Governor’s Highway Safety Bureau
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
National Highway Traffic Administration
Town of Falmouth Traffic Advisory Committee