Health Officials Launch New Program That Will Hopefully Save More Pedestrians' Lives

Categories: Transportation

In light of the recent holiday accidents, San Francisco health officials are teaming up with the cops, the mayor, and pretty much everyone else who's frustrated by bad drivers to provide targeted traffic enforcement in areas where elderly and youth pedestrians are most at risk.

The Department of Public Health will spent a $140,000 grant, paid for by the California Office of Traffic Safety, to identify schools and senior centers where pedestrians are often victims of traffic accidents. Once these locations are named, extra motorcycle cops will be deployed accordingly, nabbing speeding drivers and generally bad drivers.

See also: Three Pedestrians Knocked Onto Hillside in Hit-And-Run Accident, One Killed

Specifically, the cops will be there to ensure drivers yield to pedestrians like they are supposed to.

"Research has shown that adhering to speed limits reduces injuries and deaths, especially among seniors and youth who are at high risk. We are pleased to be able to work closely with the Police Department to increase traffic enforcement and educating drivers to reduce their driving speed around schools and seniors centers to create a safer environment and, ultimately, save lives," said Barbara Garcia, director of the S.F. Department of Public Health.

If you are busted "violating pedestrian safety laws" in these designated areas, you can bet you will get a $155 citation, police said. The new enforcement operations will begin early in 2013.

The campaign was developed to address high rates of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in San Francisco. According to 2011 SFPD collision data, 876 pedestrians were injured by auto collisions. The same data show that 68 percent of all deaths caused by traffic collisions citywide were pedestrian casualties (of the 25 traffic deaths, 17 were pedestrian deaths).

Just last week, 23-year-old Gina Eunice was arrested on felony DUI charges after she allegedly slammed into three pedestrians in the Twin Peaks Vista area, knocking them onto the hillside. The driver sped off, leaving her victims behind. Three people were injured (one woman hurt herself as she jumped out of the way of the car) and 56-year-old Yuee Yao of San Francisco died.

According to the SFPD, children and seniors are especially vulnerable pedestrians. Older pedestrians represent 35 percent to 60 percent of all pedestrian deaths from traffic collisions, which is a disproportionate share. Also, children are more often being injured during school commute hours.

"Pedestrian safety is a serious issue in our community, especially for seniors and schoolchildren," said SFPD Chief Greg Suhr. "Drivers don't realize how lethal their cars become, especially when they're distracted. We want people to drive safely and not to have to ticket them, but our officers are prepared enforce the law."

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