Santa Monica Lookout
Keeping Pedestrian Deaths Down in Santa Monica
By Jason Islas
October 18, 2013 -- Even in a city like Santa Monica that prides itself on a robust bike network and aggressive pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, accidents happen. According to official reports, the number of pedestrians killed by cars in Santa Monica jumped from one in 2010 to seven in 2011.
While officials described the dramatic increase as an anomaly -- three pedestrians were killed in 2012 and only one this year so far -- Santa Monica officials are working to keep accidents in the bayside city, where tourists flock by the thousands every year, to a minimum.
For one thing, the City developing a pedestrian action plan, designed to help pedestrians get around town “safely and comfortably,” according to officials.
“The Action Plan will identify places that need to be improved now and look forward to what changes are needed to help residents access Santa Monica’s three Expo light rail stations opening in 2016,” officials said. “The plan will also inform ongoing and future enforcement and public safety campaigns. All of this requires community input.”
While the Plan is a long-term solution to address pedestrian safety, the Santa Monica Police Department (SMDP) has a number of strategies to keep accidents to a minimum.
“The police department regularly monitors those areas in the city that have high occurrences of traffic accidents, including pedestrian accidents,” said Sergeant Jay Moroso, spokesperson for the SMDP.
“We also monitor the primary collision factors, commonly called traffic violations, that caused those accidents,” he said.
Unsafe motorists aren't the only target of the SMPD.
“The Traffic Division conducts weekly Problem Solving Safety Team operations that usually include a pedestrian enforcement operation at one of the areas in the city with a high number of pedestrian violations,” Moroso said.
“These operations can target the pedestrian who crosses a street against a red light or mid-block, or they can target the driver of a vehicle that does not stop for a pedestrian crossing in a crosswalk,” he said.
The first pedestrian fatality of 2013 happened earlier this month when a man was killed crossing Lincoln Boulevard around midnight. While police investigators determined that the driver in this case was not under the influence, that is not always the case.
“Unfortunately, we have distracted drivers, non-yielding bicyclists, and unsafe or impaired pedestrians all coming together on our roadways,” said Jason Olson, a traffic investigator with the SMPD.
In 2012, a drunk driver killed an Australian man as crossing Colorado Avenue at Third Street with his family.
“If we can reduce or eliminate each of those, I believe we will have a corresponding result on pedestrian collisions,” Olson said.
But Moroso said that enforcement is just one tool the police has to stop bad behavior on the road.
“Although this method (enforcement) seems to get the lion’s share of attention by the public, we also try and bring the public into compliance through education,” he said.
In conjunction with City T.V., SMPD has produced a public service announcement entitled Be Safe-Be Seen, according to Moroso.
“This PSA has been aired for numerous years in five different languages, is also shown on the police department’s web site, and is shown in local hotels for visitors to watch who may not be familiar with our pedestrian safety standards,” he said.
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