Metro

When are Mass. drivers most likely to get a traffic ticket?

George Rizer/Globe Staff/File

Spring fever?

Police in recent years issued more traffic violations in May than in any other month, state data show.

“The onset of nice weather brings more people onto the roads, resulting in more violations,” said State Police spokesman David Procopio.

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Brian Kyes, president of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association and chief of Chelsea police, said that there could also be a surge in traffic during May because of college commencements and students moving back home.

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Meanwhile, there were noticeably fewer violations given out in December and February.

Officials said that cold and winter weather in those months may mean that there are fewer cars on the road.

February also simply has fewer days than other months.

And in December, there may be fewer officers patrolling roadways, at least for some departments, because they’re taking time off for the holidays, and the officers who are patrolling may be more forgiving during the holiday season.

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Procopio said, however, that, at least for State Police: “It is not a reflection of the number of troopers patrolling, as we make sure we have adequate and appropriate staffing levels every day of the year,” he said.

Fridays had the highest number of violations in recent years, while significantly fewer were issued on Sundays, data show.

“Fridays see a high traffic volume, both in terms of the working commute, as well as the ‘get-away’ commute for people going on vacation for the weekend. Higher volume translates into more citations,” said Procopio. “Conversely, Sunday has a lower volume, with most people not commuting to jobs.”

Kyes said that because of heavier traffic volumes there may be more officers patrolling.

“More officers are usually deployed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday as opposed to Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday — although this varies from department to department,” said Kyes.

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Data show that the 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. hours were noticeably busier for issuing of violations than other hours, followed by the 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. hours.

The least busy times were the 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. hours.

Mark Leahy, executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and former Northborough police chief, said both are a reflection of how busy roads are at those times.

“Day shifts are typically well patrolled, as things are busy,” he said. “Overnight shifts tend to have fewer patrols, as calls for service are fewer.”

When looking at the number of violations issued on each calendar day in recent years, one trend stood out: Dec. 25, Christmas Day, was consistently the date with the fewest violations issued.

Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve also had noticeably fewer violations than other dates.

But why?

“The answer is probably a combination of fewer drivers and officer discretion,” said Procopio. “We expect our troopers to be active, and also empower them to use discretion. So, yes, it is possible that, if it is a close call between warning and citation and everything else being equal, the trooper might lean toward the warning on a day like Christmas or Thanksgiving.”

Kyes said that, at least for some police departments holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving “are usually the shifts with the fewest personnel on duty due to vacations, holiday administrative schedules and compensatory time.”