Santa Monica police in October will crack down on pedestrians and motorists who disobey right-of-way laws in an attempt to curb a rash of traffic incidents involving vehicles and Angelenos on foot.
The stepped up enforcement began just days before a study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute revealed that Los Angeles was one of the most dangerous cities for pedestrians.
In LA, pedestrian fatalities account for a third of all traffic-related deaths. That’s nearly triple the national average of 11 percent, the study reported.
Another major metropolis, New York City joined Los Angeles at the top of the disconcerting list. Nearly half of all traffic fatalities in urban New York were pedestrians, according to the study.
When NBC4 visited Santa Monica on Tuesday, our cameras captured several close calls in the coastal city’s intersections.
In one incident, a driver honked his horn to warn pedestrians stepping into the crosswalk that he's not giving them the right of way. They take it in stride and keep walking, but before they can make it to the other side, two more cars race by within inches of them.
In 2012 alone, 88 pedestrians in Santa Monica have been struck by vehicles. Three of them were killed.
"It's distracted driving, not knowing where you're going, being in a rush, and alcohol
is always a negative," said Sgt. Richard Lewis.
October sting operations aimed at cracking down on those in cars and on foot who ignore pedestrian laws are an effort to prevent tragedies like the death of Claire Rose. She was killed by a hit-and-run driver on July 16, her 30th birthday, while in the crosswalk at 21st Street and Wilshire Boulevard.
Despite offering a reward, police have been unable to find the black Toyota Corolla S that fatally struck Rose.
Rose’s death left her boyfriend, Sasha Rasmussen, devastated.
"My life's been turned upside down," he said. "My insides have been crushed. Claire was everything to me."
Enforcing laws to make streets safer for pedestrians, Rasmussen said, is a step in the right direction, but he’d like to see structural changes, like better lighting for crosswalks and more traffic cameras.
"I would say to drivers be cautious. Be aware. Pay attention to what's going on, because Claire was an amazing person," Rasmussen said, relaying the reminder he hopes his girlfriend’s death can serve.