Rules of the road: traffic deputies step up enforcement effort

A West Ranch High School student crosses in front of traffic heading to the High School and Rancho Pico Junior High School on Valencia Blvd. on the first day of school in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012. Dan Watson/The Signal
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While kids headed back to school, deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station sought to ensure that traffic laws around campuses were being followed.

On Monday, four deputies from the SCV Sheriff’s Station issued 40 citations in a single day for drivers passing through school zones, for everything from unsafe speeds to driving with a suspended license.

While the operation, funded by a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety, was an uptick in the daily average for deputies, it was a mere statistical blip among the more than 19,000 citations handed out in 2019, according to Sgt. Scott Shoemaker of the Sheriff Station’s Traffic Unit. Last year’s total represents a slight increase over the 18,700 or so tickets the station issued in 2018 — which comes out to roughly 50 per day.

“It’s approximately 40 extra citations that we normally wouldn’t have on top of a week,” said Shoemaker in reference to the Jan. 6. “On average, it’s about 300 or 350 citations a week.”

Shoemaker said the goal is to increase the amount of safety that occurs on the roads.

“Writing citations is one issue, but just the presence of a radio car or a motorcycle if they’re within a block of a school … its that reminder that there’s deputies here,” said Shomemaker. “(Drivers) see the flashing lights and it gets that reminder of, ‘Hey, these guys are here. I need to have a little bit more extra awareness of what I’m doing, making sure I’m doing it safely.’”

Since Dec. 1 of last year, at least eight pedestrian-vs.-vehicle collisions have occurred in Santa Clarita. When asked about the collisions, Shoemaker said that both pedestrians and vehicles need to be paying more attention on the roads.

“The last time we looked at this with the city, it was pretty evenly split between the pedestrians’ fault and the vehicle drivers being at fault,” said Shoemaker. “So there’s awareness that needs to be on both sides of the coin.”

On Tuesday, a 12-year-old child was hit in front of Sierra Vista High School. Shoemaker, said he had not yet seen the report, but advised people to take more caution when in a school zone, even if they do not see deputies present.

“They need to be abiding by the speed limit and have their head completely outside the windows looking around, looking between cars, looking in the intersections, things like that — to make sure that you don’t have a young kid that’s not paying attention, not aware of the rules completely, and just darts in front of them.”

Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar on Wednesday said that City Hall was aware of the ongoing issue with traffic safety, and added the city would continue to work closely with law enforcement to address the challenges, some of which are inevitable due to growth, he added.

“Those are big conversations we’ve carried out with our contract with the Sheriff’s Department,” said Kellar. “That’s why we’ve increased our traffic enforcement throughout Santa Clarita, and we will continue to do whatever necessary to maximize safety for all of our citizens.”

One of the ways Santa Clarita would see a decrease in pedestrian-vs.-vehicle collisions, as well as vehicle-vs.-vehicle collisions, is through the spreading of awareness, Shoemaker said. He advised bicyclists to wear reflective clothing, for pedestrians to make sure they’re looking both ways before crossing the street and for people not to be on their phones while driving.

“If our guys can go out and work an operation and write zero tickets because they saw zero violations, that’s kind of a perfect day,” Shoemaker said. “Unfortunately, that’s not what happens.”

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