Hamilton’s police chief says it’s no coincidence the number of car crashes dropped in the same year officers handed out a record number of traffic tickets.

A year-end report on traffic statistics says 69,197 provincial offence notices were issued by the police service in 2012,the highest number in its history. That number represents a 13 per cent increase over the 61,439 tickets handed out in 2011 and a 44 per cent bump over 2006, when 48,181 notices were issued.

In a recent budget town hall, Police Chief Glenn De Caire cited the record ticket haul as one reason behind another record number: 8,800 collisions.

“The payoff is … that is the lowest number of collisions the city has ever had,” he said at the meeting, referring to statistics collected over the past 10 years.

De Caire, who will pitch a 3.9 per cent police budget increase at Monday’s board meeting, argued increased traffic enforcement will gradually improve insurance rates in the city.

The tickets handed out in 2012 were mostly “hazardous moving violations” such as careless driving, speeding and running red lights. About 18,000 notices were issued for “nonhazardous” offences, including seatbelt violations.

The total number of car collisions has dropped annually since 2008, from 10,887 in that year to 8,800 in 2012. Personal injury reports are also at their lowest level in seven years, with 1,448 last year.

Fatal collisions have fallen slightly over the past three years.

Last year, 20 people died in 18 vehicle collisions, with four of those crashes involving multiple vehicles and six involving pedestrians. There were 21 fatal crashes in 2011 and 24 in 2010.

The report also lists 837 alcohol-related driving offences in 2012, down from 854 in 2011. Alcohol was a factor in 107 vehicle collisions last year, one of which resulted in a death.

The report also points to another record for the police service: 228,315 vehicle stops through the RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere) program. That represents the most driver checks ever for the police service and a 36 per cent increase over the 167,766 stops in 2011.

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