Tag Archive for 'enforcement'

Crosscut: SPD enforcement inconsistent with collision data

Former Washington state Secretary of Transportation, Douglas MacDonald, has a post on Crosscut that examines some of the city’s traffic fatality data, asking how safe are Seattle’s roads?. He points out that the number of fatalities for pedestrians is much higher than that of bicyclists:

The numbers are stark, starting with the death toll. In the three years 2008–2010, there were 62 traffic fatalities in Seattle. More than half involved pedestrians (25 deaths) and cyclists (7 deaths). Just to put the scale of traffic victims against the scale of crime victims, that toll of 62 deaths on the roads compares to the three-year Seattle homicide total of about 70, so long as you, like the Seattle Police Department, don’t drag in another half-dozen “officer involved” shootings.

It’s a great write-up, pointing out that elderly pedestrians are more at risk, and that collisions with pedestrians and cyclists account for 10% of all collisions between moving traffic. And, he reinforces what we reported on yesterday:

Cutting through the huge variety of circumstances in all these collision, the data reported by SPD points in one dramatic direction. Three-quarters of vehicle collisions with pedestrians and cyclists in 2009 and 2010 involved the actions of the driver as a contributing factor. In two-thirds of those cases (about half of the total) the problem was the most basic of driver derelictions: failure to yield the right of way to the pedestrian or cyclist. So, with a myriad of steps that can be taken to improve safety, the most fundamental lie with getting the drivers to mind the rules.

This creates a very troubling juxtaposition with what the statistics show concerning traffic enforcement. In 2010 the Seattle Police Department issued 27,348 traffic tickets for moving violations. This was down by 7 percent from 2009. In 2010 just 197 tickets were issued to drivers for failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians. That was down by over 50 percent from 2009. SPD did, however, issue 1570 citations to pedestrians in 2010. That was up from 1274 in 2009. That picture might suggest that the enforcement priority lies with picking the low-hanging fruit rather than focusing on the heart of the problem.

The article recommends attending a road safety summit – there are two left.


Pedestrian safety laws being enforced downtown

Enforcement actions have begun downtown to keep pedestrians safe as part of the Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign.

As part of the Holiday Pedestrian Safety Campaign, targeted enforcement efforts by the Seattle Police Department will occur at high collision locations in the Center City area from December 29, 2010, to January 19, 2011.

The main goal of enforcement is to deter unsafe behavior by drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, and to encourage people, whether they are driving or walking, to obey traffic laws and share the road safely. The effort will not detract from other policing duties or require additional funding, but will be part of the regular duties of the Seattle Police Department’s Traffic Section.

Drivers and pedestrians are both at risk of being cited for breaking any of these laws:

SMC 11.66.060 Blocking intersections and crosswalks
No person who is responsible for the operation of any railroad train or car shall stop the same within an intersection or on a crosswalk except to avoid accident or upon direction of a peace officer.

SMC 11.53.400 Further limitations on overtaking and passing
Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the operator of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle. (RCW 46.61.235(4))

SMC 11.50.270 “Walk” pedestrian-control signal
Pedestrians facing a walking person symbol signal may cross the roadway in the direction of the signal. If pedestrians have begun to cross a roadway while facing such a signal, all approaching vehicle operators shall stop to allow them to complete their crossing.

SMC 11.50.280 “Don’t walk” pedestrian-control signal
Pedestrians facing a steady or flashing hand symbol signal shall not enter the roadway, but if pedestrians have begun to cross before the display of either signal, vehicle operators shall stop to allow them to complete their movements.

It’s good to see enforcement like this, even if it is only for a small part of the year.