Taking time to watch the traffic in Ahwatukee Foothills is eye opening.
Officer Toby Ehrler, an Ahwatukee resident who also monitors traffic problems in the area, suggested I take some time to just sit and watch the intersection at 36th Street and Knox Road near Corpus Christi Church. I parked my car and watched for only 15 minutes at a time when traffic was not busy.
In 15 minutes I saw about 50 cars go through the intersection. Two-thirds of the cars slowed and stopped completely, even when no other cars were around. The other third slowed down but went right on through. One or two cars didn't even stop when another car was coming in the opposite direction.
I also noticed that cars coming from the neighborhood on the south side of 36th Street were more likely to not stop than the cars coming down Knox Road. Interesting, right?
Ehrler has been a motorcycle officer for 25 years with the Phoenix Police Department, though he's been with the department for 28 years in all. The intersection on Knox is one he says he often patrols and that the biggest problem he sees in Ahwatukee and across Phoenix is speeding.
During the day two motorcycle officers are watching over Ahwatukee, purely for traffic violations, until about 2 p.m. Not all patrol officers are radar certified, but Ehrler estimates there are about a dozen in Ahwatukee that are and others may assess speed by matching the speed of someone they come across on the road. Undercover cars are also used somewhat regularly in Ahwatukee to enforce traffic laws.
There's no quota for tickets they must issue, but Ehrler estimates they give out more than 100 tickets a week. The other traffic officer in Ahwatukee says the most he has issued in one day was 35 tickets on Pecos Road. Keep in mind, Ehrler says he doesn't usually stop a car unless they are going 13 mph over the speed limit.
"I give warnings every day," Ehrler said. "Not every officer does but sometimes I think people learn more from a warning than a citation, and citations are not cheap."
Ehrler also monitors the Traffic Complaint Hotline. Last year, they received more than 2,600 calls to the hotline. Many calls are isolated incidents that they cannot do anything about because they have to observe the violation themselves, but Ehrler is careful to return every call and assess every situation.
He encourages anyone who sees an aggressive driver on the road to call Crime Stop because they may be able to respond to calls faster than the hotline. If there is a need for speed enforcement in your neighborhood, the hotline number is (602) 534-7733.
Speeding is a constant problem all over the city and Ehrler says the traffic bureau is under staffed like most areas of the Phoenix Police Department, which hasn't hired in years. If there was one thing Ehrler wanted to get across to residents it's just to slow down, take a deep breath, and be a little more courteous on the roads.
"Everyone has an agenda," Ehrler said. "Everyone is dropping off kids, or going to work, or the store. All we're trying to convey to folks is to slow down and try to remember the basic traffic laws. The things we had to study when we got our driver's licenses. It would make it just a safer community and, hopefully, reduce accidents. That's our main goal. That's why we write tickets."
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