Santa Barbara County law enforcement agencies are taking part in Pedestrian Safety Month, declared for September by California lawmakers. In areas where pedestrians are known to encounter vehicles that do not stop, it’s possible the person crossing the street has a partnering law enforcement officer parked nearby to observe, and ticket if necessary.
In 2015, 813 pedestrians were killed on California roads, comprising nearly 25 percent of all roadway deaths in the state, the county Sheriff’s Office stated. In the past three years, Santa Barbara police investigated 227 fatal and injury collisions between cars and pedestrians in the City of Santa Barbara. In Goleta, police investigated two fatal pedestrian incidents and 40 injuries. Cell phone calls, texting, high speeds, and inattention are the chief faults for drivers. For pedestrians, jaywalking and wearing dark clothing at night are problem factors.
Drivers must yield the right-of-way to people crossing the road, whether or not a crosswalk is marked. On certain streets, stopping triangles mark the line before the crosswalk at which cars should wait; this gives drivers in the other lane time to stop. Pedestrians are warned to cross at crosswalks and intersections, where cars expect to see them, as well as to stay off the phone and remain alert to traffic moving nearby. Always make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them, police advise.
Additional precautions, and fines, occur in school areas, said Santa Barbara Police spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood. If drivers pass a school bus with flashing red signals and its stop signal arm deployed, the fine is $695. Crossing guards must be obeyed ($285 fine), and drivers must yield to pedestrians at intersections ($238 fine). When children are present, drive slowly near schools, or no more than 25 mph.