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Police to Crack Down on Traffic Violations


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By Lookout Staff

March 6, 2024 -- On Thursday and Friday, Santa Monica traffic officers will crack down on violations that endanger the safety of those who walk and bicycle on the city's streets.

The extra enforcement efforts -- which take place between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. -- are part of the City's enhanced efforts to curb serious and fatal collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists.

The two-day enforcement operation will focus on "primary collision factors involving motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists" and will take place at "locations where pedestrian and bike collisions are prevalent, along with the violations that led to those collisions," police said.

The violations include speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield or provide right of way to bicyclists or pedestrians, or failing to stop for signs and signals.

“We all have places to be and not everyone gets there by car," police officials said. "Bicyclists and pedestrians have the same rights to the road but face even more risk without the protections vehicles have. We should all be looking out for one another.”

The operation comes amid a rise in "injury causing crashes" involving pedestrians following a steep drop in 2020 due to the COVID shutdown ("Injury Crashes Involving Pedestrians Rising," January 16, 2024).

Two homeless pedestrians were killed by motorists in separate incidents on December 24 and January 13.

Police advise pedestrians to "be predictable," "use crosswalks, when available and "be extra careful crossing streets or entering crosswalks at night."

Under bill AB 2147, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2022, pedestrians are allowed to cross a street against a traffic light or outside a crosswalk without receiving a ticket.

Under the "Freedom to Walk Act," officers can cite pedestrians only if there is an immediate hazard.

The renewed safety efforts also come after a bicyclist was killed by a car on 19th Street and Idaho Avenue last October, prompting immediate action by City officials.

They include installing four-way stop signs at dangerous intersections and taking initial steps to place a general tax on the November ballot to help boost bicycle safety.

The initiatives are part of the City's accelerated efforts to achieve "Vision Zero," a policy adopted in February of 2016 "to eliminate all fatal and severe-injury crashes" over the coming decades.

They come amid a dramatic drop in the number of "injury-causing crashes" involving cyclists -- from some 150 in 2012 to 72 last year, according to accident data provided by the City.

Police officials remind bicyclists that they must follow similar traffic laws as motorists, must travel in the same direction of traffic and have the same requirements as any slow moving vehicle.

They should also avoid riding too close to parked cars and use available bike lanes unless making a left turn, passing or approaching a place where a right turn is allowed.

Bicyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or within unmarked crosswalks at intersections.

All cyclists should always wear a helmet, while those under 18 years of age must wear them by law.

Funding for the traffic safety program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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