A Wednesday law enforcement effort caught scores of drivers who blast through crosswalks without paying attention, endangering Turlock pedestrians.
Motorcycle officers from the Turlock Police Department joined officers from several other Stanislaus County law enforcement agencies for a proactive Pedestrian Safety Enforcement detail in Turlock Wednesday morning. The team, known as Stanislaus County Integrated Traffic Enforcement (CITE), handed out dozens of tickets at the intersection of Geer Road and 20th Century Boulevard, and on Golden State Boulevard.
Using an officer posing as a pedestrian, CITE officers would simply sit back and observe as the pedestrian would make seemingly safe trips back and forth through the crosswalk. But unaware drivers frequently put the pedestrian at risk – and ended up with a ticket.
By law drivers are supposed to stop when a pedestrian is going through a crosswalk, but many would simply slow down and then accelerate through the crosswalk, just missing the pedestrian.
In one incident a driver stopped just 18 inches in front of the pedestrian. When the driver was subsequently pulled over by a motorcycle officer, she claimed that she didn’t see the pedestrian.
“He is six feet tall and he was 18 inches from your bumper,” the officer replied.
A total of 10 motorcycle officers picked off aggressive drivers one-by-one at the intersection for more than one hour. The pedestrian was nearly struck several times, because drivers were not paying attention.
“We’ve had a rise in vehicles striking pedestrians not just in Turlock but throughout the county. So by bringing all these agencies together it increases our efforts from just three motorcycle traffic patrols for Turlock to 10 or more,” said TPD Sgt. Neil Cerevenka.
Cerevenka noted that the intersection of Geer Road and 20th Century Avenue is a heavily used crosswalk – particularly when Crowell Elementary School begins or ends its school day.
“You can see how drivers aren’t paying attention now, just imagine if there were kids in the crosswalk,” said Cerevenka.
Another officer indicated that when drivers talk on their cell phones or text they are not paying attention, which could be a reason for the countywide increase in vehicle versus pedestrian incidents. Bikes are not considered pedestrians, although an increase has been reported in vehicle versus bikes incidents as well.
By the end of the day, 83 citations were issued to pedestrians and motorists for pedestrian safety violations. Additionally, two were cited for the use of a cell phone, and three for suspended licenses.
A "pedestrian" going thru the crosswalk at Geer and 20th Century raises his arms in frustration with a driver who was failing to yield the right of way. By law drivers are supposed to stop and wait for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Photo: Jonathan McCorkell 11-06-13