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Providence issued speeding tickets at 27 times the rate of Massachusetts

People packed a Providence courtroom, many of them charged with speeding violations because of new traffic cameras in school zones.
People packed a Providence courtroom, many of them charged with speeding violations because of new traffic cameras in school zones.(Jim Davis/Globe Staff)

The city of Providence issued 12,193 speeding tickets over a recent 38-day span.

That’s an eye-popping figure, for sure, but just how out of whack is it?

Here’s one helpful comparison: During that recent stretch, Providence issued tickets at a daily per capita clip that was about 27 times greater than that of police across Massachusetts.

Here’s how the math works:

During 2016, 167,538 violations for speeding were issued statewide in Massachusetts, or about 459 violations per day, on average, state records show.

That looks somewhat higher than the average of 321 speeding tickets per day issued in Providence between Jan. 16 and Feb. 22.

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But, of course, comparing those two locales straight up isn’t fair since Providence is much smaller than Massachusetts.

Providence is home to about 179,000 residents, while Massachusetts, in 2016, had more than 6.8 million residents.

Adjusting for population, while not a perfect representation of how many drivers are out there, creates a much more level playing field — and it highlights how stunning the recent Providence ticketing spree really was.

The per capita rate of speeding violations issued on the average day in Massachusetts during 2016 was about 7 violations per 100,000 residents.

Meanwhile, in Providence, the rate was 179 speeding tickets per 100,000 residents daily, or 27 times greater.

A rough analysis looking at tickets issued per vehicle-mile traveled in Providence and Massachusetts yielded similarly startling results.


Dugan Arnett and Todd Wallack of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele