Distracted driving leads list of traffic tickets in operation

Signal file photo: Part time crossing guard Fred Mortimer, right, stops traffic on Decoro Drive for students and parents caring umbrellas as they head home from Santa Clarita Elementary School after rain fell on Saugus on Tuesday afternoon. A recent Sheriff's Station operation focused on driving and pedestrian safety DAN WATSON 011916

Illegal cell phone use accounted for two-thirds of the citations handed out during a Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station traffic crackdown Wednesday, officials said.

Sgt. Scott Shoemaker, who heads the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station’s Traffic Section, said that he would be happier with the results from Wednesday’s traffic enforcement operation if there were zero citations issued.

“Although I did see a lot of people yielding to the pedestrians as they should,” Shoemaker said, “we still have some drivers who don’t understand the safety issues, the law, or are just too impatient.

“There are also way too many people using their phones while driving,” he said. “Approximately two-thirds of the citations were issued for cell phone violations.”

Deputies witnessed the same ratio during a crackdown carried out in September.

Between 8 a.m. and noon Wednesday, at the intersection of Lyons Avenue and Newhall Avenue, in Newhall deputies issued 69 citations.

We had two of our station personnel playing the role of pedestrians crossing the intersection, while traffic deputies noted the motorists’ actions.

Here is a breakdown of the 69 citations:

  • 20 citations for drivers failing to yield to pedestrians
  • 46 citations for cell phone/electronic device while driving.
  • 2 citations for failing to stop for a red light
  • 1 citation for a registration violation

The special team of deputies turned out in force Wednesday making sure laws were obeyed as part of the SCV Sheriff Station’s Bike and Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operations.

They paid particular attention to “collision causing factors” that involve motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Sheriff’s officials mapped out places in the SCV where pedestrian and bike collisions have occurred over the last three years. They also looked the violations that led to those crashes.

Extra deputies patrolled areas where bike and pedestrian traffic and crashes have occured, all in an effort to lower deaths and injuries.

They looked for violations made by drivers, bike riders and pedestrians alike that could lead to life changing injuries and found at least 69.

The same crackdown was done in September when deputies handed out 48 citations  for alleged violations.

Deputies found the same ratio of motorists distracted in their driving by talking on cell phones.

At least 31 people — the lion’s share of alleged offenses totaling 48 — were issued citations for cell phone violations.

Bicycle and pedestrian fatalities are rising in California as more people use these non-motorized means of transportation, according to the news release announcing the crackdown.

Locally, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has investigated 4,909 fatal and injury collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists during the past three years.

In 2016, California witnessed 867 pedestrians and 147 bicyclists killed, accounting for more than 28 percent of all traffic fatalities.

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

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