A vehicle illegally crosses in the path of an undercover Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputy crossing the street. (Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station/Facebook)
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Local traffic cops took a big step in making SCV streets safer for pedestrians Thursday, handing out 37 citations in a sting operation aimed at catching drivers violating crosswalk safety laws.

“The purpose of the operation was to enhance public safety and the awareness of drivers and pedestrians,” Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Sgt. Scott Shoemaker, who is in charge of the station’s Traffic Section said Thursday.

The three-hour operation conducted jointly by Traffic and Crime Prevention deputies took place Thursday morning at the intersections of Soledad Canyon Road/Whites Canyon Road, Soledad Canyon Road at Sierra Highway, and Valencia Boulevard at McBean Parkway.

During the operation, a deputy wearing blue jeans, a T-shirt, and a plaid flannel jacket would step into the crosswalk to test whether oncoming motorists would stop.

The 37 citations were issued to motorists who violated the crosswalk laws while the deputy was crossing, Shoemaker said in a news release issued Thursday afternoon.

“Some of the drivers cited admitted they weren’t paying attention,” he said. “Some said they never saw the pedestrian, some said they thought they were far enough away from the pedestrian, and some drivers apologized for their actions, stating they should have stopped, but didn’t.”

Shoemaker reminded drivers Thursday to come to a complete stop at crosswalks, yielding to pedestrians, and for pedestrians to remain alert when crossing, looking both ways, and making eye contact with the drivers.
Cell phones can serve as a distraction, he said, not only to drivers, but to pedestrians as well.

He said: “Although it’s not illegal to use a cell phone when walking, I see some people looking at their phones and not paying attention to their surroundings. Pedestrian safety is a two-way street.”

At this time last year, the Santa Clarita Valley saw a spike in the number of pedestrians killed on local streets.

In the 20 months preceding April 2016, 10 pedestrians died on Santa Clarita Valley streets and freeways — or, in one case, a parking lot — all killed by moving vehicles.

And, while each life cut short carries its own set of circumstances, two common threads run through eight of the 10 tragedies that might help explain them: darkness and walking outside designated crosswalks.

In April 2016, in response to the spate of pedestrian fatalities, Shoemaker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station warned that having a right-of-way isn’t enough.

“As a pedestrian, even when you have the right-of-way, don’t assume the vehicle will yield,” he said at the time. “Always make sure that the vehicle is stopping and that they see you.”

Deputies remain committed to protecting pedestrians.

Last week, a $20,000 reward in the hit and run fatal traffic collision that in December claimed the life of 15-year-old Desiree Lawson was announced.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a recommendation last month calling for the posting of a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of a suspect or suspects responsible for the fatal hit-and-run.

On Dec. 26, the day after Christmas, deputies were dispatched to the area of 27000 block of Sierra Highway about 8:40 p.m. due to the report of a person being in the road.

jholt@signalscv.com

661-287-5527

on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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  • lois eisenberg

    Most motorist don’t realize, are just don’t care, that when a car is stopped at a cross
    walk it is for a purpose that you yield the right of way toward to the pedestrian.

    In fact when seeing a vehicle stopped in the middle of the street you take the same
    precaution as if a pedestrian is crossing.

  • Ron Bischof

    Entrapment.

    Surely deputies could have observed actual pedestrians, eh?

    • Gary Bierend

      I concur.

      What I find interesting is that the article mentions pedestrian deaths, but not how many occurred while the pedestrian is legally crossing in a crosswalk. I suspect the statistics don’t bear out the need for the sting, or else they would have mentioned it.

      This may also be something like the DUI checkpoints, where they stop 1500 drivers, and nab 1 DUI driver. Usually the money for those come from the Fed, and that equals a little gravy for local LEOs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

      • Ron Bischof

        Yes, a curious omission, Gary.

      • Jimmy Huey

        I cross mcbean and valencia daily. Unfortunately drivers violate pedestrian right-of-way all the time.

        The most dangerous crossings are NW to SW crossing followed by the SE to NE crossing. It’s no coincidence that the big “Yield to Pedestrian” LED signs were put up at those crossings. Those signs were very effective initially but drivers mostly ignore them now.

        Some general observations:

        1) two right turn lanes. drivers at the outer most right turn lane often don’t notice a pedestrian waiting at the corner.

        2) drivers will sometimes focus 100% on incoming traffic from the left and not on pedestrians waiting at the corner.

        3) general driver aggressiveness/impatience. i.e. drivers will immediately start their right turn when the light turns green even if there is a pedestrian waiting there. The traffic signal was reprofiled a few years ago at the NW to SW crossing to give the pedestrian an additional 1 second of crossing time before the motorists were given the green light. this help tremendously at the beginning, but drivers now ignore it

        I got hit crossing from the SE to NE corner about a year and a half ago. The driver drove off without stopping. good samaritans tracked followed the driver until the sheriffs caught up them. turned out it was an elderly driver that never saw me nor even knew she had hit me.

        I complained to city transporation about the incident. they told me that there wasn’t much that could be done except to send out a LASD sting operation. (which actually did occur early last year) Interestingly they told me that the red-light cameras were a cause for a large # of accidents and this was what prompted their removal. Their explanation made sense, but i don’t recall what it is anymore.

        I was also told that a doctor from the facey building was hit making the SE to SW crossing last year.

        These sting operations need to occur more often, IMHO.

        • Gary Bierend

          Jimmy, sorry you got hit. Man, you’re lucky you’re here to tell the tale, and lucky that you had a witness!

          If you don’t mind me asking, has the case against the woman that hit you been wrapped up yet? Did you have to testify, did she get jail time?

          • Jimmy Huey

            From what the deputies told me, they issued her a ticket to retake the driving test. She was 87 yrs old, was quite confused about what happened, so there were no charges filed.

            I ended up with a very bruised left arm, but otherwise wasn’t seriously hurt. I never followed up on it nor pursued a case against her. Just came away with good lesson on being more vigilant. Usually when you enter the intersection, it’s very common for cars to start their turn ahead of you. I thought for sure she was gong to stop, but as it turns out she didn’t see me at all i got side-swiped.

            Just last week a car attempted to cut me off as I was crossing the road inside the mall (in full view of the police!) the cops immediately pulled them over. I never had that happened before in the 18yrs I’ve lived here (well, off and on). so maybe it’s a sign the LASD are being more vigilant.

          • Gary Bierend

            It’s very gracious of you to not pursue a case against a Senior Citizen. However, the Sheriff’s response to your case doesn’t make any sense. They created a trap, and wrote as many tickets as they could to what end, raise awareness? Yet when they had someone who actually hit a pedestrian and then kept driving, all the lady had to say was “I was confused” and she got off with ticket?

            I wonder if that would have worked for any of the 37 that got stung.

          • Jimmy Huey

            For what it’s worth, the santa clarita transportation and planning department told me that the stings are to raise awareness. It seems to have worked to some extent. i.e. the local media outlets have reported it and we’re talking about it. But the fact that 37 citations were issued in a space of 3hrs should be cause for concern, right? I’m assuming that these were legitimate citations and that the officers weren’t breaking any laws crossing the street. Perhaps the best way to deal with this is let drivers off with a warning instead of issuing citations..

            i’m of the mind that there’s more that can be done to re-profile some of the more problematic traffic signals. The NW to NE crossing at Mcbean/Del Monte used to _very_ dangerous with cars making left turns consistently cutting pedestrians off. The signals now give pedestrians 3 seconds before motorists get the green and that virtually ended all the problems.

          • Gary Bierend

            By the way, when they made her re-take the test, do you know if it was the written test or the practical test?

          • Jimmy Huey

            To be honest, I don’t know. I’m assuming it must’ve been practical. I didn’t really talk at length with the police officer and I never followed up on the police report. (i was curious to see how much blame was assigned to me, but i ended up losing the slip that they gave me)

            I also think one of the reasons why she didn’t get charged with hit and run was because she was confused about what had happened and there was no intent to flee.

            One of the things the police kept asking me was whether I recalled if she had run the red light (as opposed to making a right turn). I was almost 100% certain she was turning, but they asked several times. I didn’t occur to me until now, but the police might have gotten contradictory information from the witnesses that saw the accident

          • Gary Bierend

            If it was the written exam, what was the point? Surely she knew, intellectually, she shouldn’t interfere with a pedestrian in a crosswalk, much less hit them.

            As for how much you were to blame, I’m no expert, but I suspect that short of jumping out in front of a moving vehicle, there isn’t much that would relieve her of culpability for hitting you…other than her being confused that is.

          • Jimmy Huey

            i think one thing you have to realize is that drivers at that particular intersection (primarily north/south traffic) very rarely will wait for the pedestrians to cross before entering into the intersection. That’s the reason why those big LED “yield to pedestrians” signs were put up in the first place 🙁

            You have to be somewhat assertive in making in at least making a move into the crosswalk; if you don’t, motorists simply won’t wait for you. I could be 15 feet into crosswalk and drivers @ the 2nd lane will still attempt to cut me off. sometimes drivers will _accelerate_ into the the 3rd lane.

            In this particular case, I simply misjudged the driver. I was so used to seeing drivers continuing to make their turn (even when I’m well into the crosswalk) that I assumed she was going to stop. In this case I had no idea she didn’t see me and I got side swiped.

            That’s the unfortunate reality of being a pedestrian here in southern california.