Undercover Crackdown Nabs Dangerous Drivers

Pedestrians should never assume they're safe until they get to the other side of the street, police warn

By Samantha Tata
|  Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013  |  Updated 6:46 PM PDT
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Undercover Crackdown Nabs Dangerous Drivers

AP

A pedestrian walks past a "Look!" sign on the crosswalk in New York City. In Los Angeles Oct. 9, police cracked down on drivers and pedestrians who didn't follow the rules of the road.

Undercover officers in the San Fernando Valley Wednesday issued 30 tickets to drivers – and one pedestrian – who threatened to add to the region’s tragic and unusually high number of crashes.

Pedestrian fatalities in the valley are up 18 percent this year, said LAPD Officer Troy Williams, with the Community Traffic Services Unit.

“This is a big blip,” Williams said.

The deadly spike is due in part to long bouts of beautiful weather – which brings outside more pedestrian – and tragic chance.

“When it comes to fatalities, there’s really no rhyme or reason. It’s so hard to predict when or where they’ll happen,” said Williams, who has been working with the traffic division for 16 years.

He added that nearly half of all people killed in San Fernando Valley crashes are pedestrians – and, in his experience, three-quarters of those slain pedestrians were at fault.

We “encourage pedestrians to never assume they’re safe until they get to the other side” of the street, Williams said.

That means no texting in the crosswalk, making sure all traffic stops before stepping into a new lane and “keeping your head on a swivel,” Williams said.

A pair of officers staked out two crosswalks Wednesday – one at Burbank Boulevard and St. Clair Avenue in North Hollywood, and another at Ventura Boulevard and Lemona Avenue in Sherman Oaks.

An undercover officer crossed those streets and cited any drivers who narrowly missed them or other pedestrians. In all, 29 drivers and a pedestrian were ticketed, Williams said.

It’s OK to cross if you have a lighted walk signal (a flashing hand means don’t step into the road), or if you are crossing corner to corner, even if there’s no crosswalk markings, Williams said.

“Pedestrians still have to take responsibility,” he added, saying that oncoming traffic or a dangerous driver may mean it isn’t safe to cross, even if all the components are in play.

In addition to their usual patrols, officers in the valley will pay special attention to pedestrian violations through Wednesday night.

But that’s not where it ends. Williams said pedestrian safety is discussed at every morning roll call.

These crackdowns are meant to “educate the community and the public that both drivers and pedestrians have a responsibility when they’re on the roadway,” Williams said.

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