As Santa Clarita Valley residents hit the road for Thanksgiving festivities, deputies at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station are reminding commuters to drive safely and responsibly on the road.
“Through Thanksgiving and Christmas it’s a zero tolerance just like every other day,” said Sgt. William Lynch, a motor sergeant with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. “We have zero tolerance for impaired driving, distracted driving an excessive speed. Those three things are getting people killed, getting people injured and they’re causing collisions.”
In addition to increasing their enforcement during the holiday season, sheriff’s deputies are working to dispel myths surrounding traffic violations throughout the city that put both drivers and pedestrians in danger.
With several accessible ridesharing options like Uber and Lyft, Lynch said there is no excuse for anyone to drive while impaired, or under the influence, this holiday season.
“Call a friend, call Lyft, call Uber, there are so many options out there. We have absolutely zero tolerance for impaired driving,” Lynch said. “A DUI conviction is in the thousands of dollars and an Uber fee is $20 to $30.”
Through the end of the year the SCV Sheriff’s Station will also be organizing at least seven DUI Saturation Operations.
During these operations, deputies are tasked to look for dangerous driving behaviors—like impaired driving, distracted driving and excess speed—in areas with historically high volumes of impaired driving arrests during their shifts.
“It’s one mission, it’s very productive because they’re not being thrown other things that they have to handle,” said Shirley Miller, public information officer with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. “Their job is to just look for any of the signs that the drivers are exhibiting unsafe driving.”
A common misconception among drivers it the idea that driving 5 miles per hour (mph) above the speed limit will not warrant a ticket. Lynch, however, said that is not the case.
“If the speed limit is 50, do 50,” Lynch said. “We have an amazing team system here with the city, the sheriff’s department and the citizenry. It is an amazing team atmosphere we have, but there are still some that just aren’t getting it. When you say ‘yeah I can do 5 over, 10 over and be safe.’ No that is not the case.”
Another speeding myth is the flow of traffic, where all drivers collectively drive above the speed limit to keep up with their fellow drivers.
“If everyone is doing 65 in a 50 you’re all eligible to get a ticket,” Lynch said. “Just because that driver next to you is doing 65 miles per hour does not mean you can do 65 miles per hour.”
Speeding will also not help residents get to their destinations faster along the streets of Santa Clarita.
“How many times have you been driving the speed limit and somebody blows by you at 15 over and where do you see that person? You see that person at the next red light, it happens all the time,” Lynch said. “I drive these streets almost every day and if I drive the absolute speed limit, let’s say 50 miles per hour, I get to my destination just as fast as the guy doing 60.”
There is no situation, whether it is while driving or while at a stop light, for a driver to use a cellphone as they are operating a motor vehicle.
“There’s a myth out there that when you’re driving you can scroll through your maps or scroll through your music playlist. Those are myths you cannot do that,” Lynch said. “If you’re at a red light, you can still not be on your device.”
A common excuse Lynch and his fellow deputies hear is that a driver was looking for a song to play or was typing an address into a maps application.
“I recommend before you operate your vehicle, secure your cellphone in the mount, pick your playlist and begin driving or type your address and find your destination,” Lynch said. “Do not use that phone at all while you’re driving because quite frankly it leads to a tremendous amount of our accidents.”
And with the passage of Assembly Bill 1785, California drivers are only allowed a single swipe or tap on a cellphone while it is sitting on a mount in a vehicle.
“Even with the cellphone mount it is still just one swipe,” Miller said. “You can always pull over and, if you have a passenger in your car, you can ask your passenger to send that text for you.”