Police begin series of traffic stings

GLENDALE — An officer in plainclothes walked across an unmarked crosswalk at Hawthorne Street and Pacific Avenue numerous times Wednesday to see if drivers yielded to him, and those who didn’t stop received a citation.

Many motorists sped by the officer, who wore a white T-shirt and blue jeans, as he walked the unmarked crosswalk, but other drivers stopped for him.

Uniformed motorcycle officers quickly followed motorists who made no attempts to stop for the officer, cited them for failing to yield to a pedestrian at an unmarked crosswalk and informed them of the rules for those walkways. An unmarked crosswalk, defined as any side of an intersection where two streets meet, is technically a walkway for pedestrians, Glendale Police Sgt. Pete Pressnell said.

“The golden rule is if you see a pedestrian, stop for him,” he said.

Wednesday’s operation was part of the Glendale Police Department’s Traffic Bureau’s efforts to increase public awareness of pedestrian safety and reduce the number of pedestrian-related accidents, Lt. Carl Povilaitis said.

Pedestrian safety enforcement has helped reduce those types of collisions in the city from 129 in 2007 to 84 last year, he said. Three victims out of the four fatalities last year resulting from pedestrian-related accidents were more than 65 years old, Povilaitis said.

The bureau began conducting pedestrian enforcement operations Feb. 4 in areas prone to speeding and collisions, he said. Traffic officers have cited more than 200 motorists since they began pedestrian enforcement operations, Povilaitis said.

“People are not paying attention and are driving too fast,” he said.

The faster motorists drive, the less time they have to correct their errors, Povilaitis said.

“What we are trying to do is to get drivers to pay attention,” he said.

Wednesday’s operation attracted several residents to watch what the officers were doing, and some residents thanked them for conducting pedestrian enforcement on their street.

“I am appreciative of what is being done for residents here,” said Niklas Rahkonen, who lives in the neighborhood.

A motorist crashed into Rahkonen’s front lawn last December, he said.

Motorists often speed on Pacific Avenue and rarely slow down for pedestrians, Rahkonen said.

Resident John Llanos moved into the neighborhood about four months ago and has seen two major accidents on Pacific Avenue, he said. The first crash that he saw was a vehicle rollover, and it occurred the same day that he moved into his home, Llanos said.

“I have a little girl and it concerns me,” he said.

Motorists drive fast on the street and have almost hit him as he backed out of his driveway, Llanos said.

“They don’t even stop,” he said.

The speed limit on the street is 30 mph, but it is not rare to see drivers go faster than the limit, Pressnell said.

Police set up orange cones on the street in front of the crosswalk during the operation to hint to drivers that they would need to slow down ahead, and also to give them more time to stop for the plainclothes officer.

The officer kept his hands in his pockets when he walked along the unmarked crosswalk so that drivers wouldn’t use the excuse that he waved to them to allow them to pass, Pressnell said.

Another violation that motorists were cited for was overtaking vehicles that already stopped for a pedestrian.

Most drivers who have been cited tell officers that they didn’t stop for the pedestrian because they didn’t see him, Pressnell said.

Since many motorists are distracted when they are driving, he advises pedestrians to be vigilant of cars and make eye contact with drivers.

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