37 motorists cited in Santa Clarita pedestrian crossing operation

A vehicle illegally crosses in the path of an undercover Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputy crossing the street in early March 2017. (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.

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on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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