Caution Enforcement Ahead
A few weeks ago, the Ukiah City Council approved several improvements to the crosswalks on North State Street near the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds. These improvements include additional painted markings on the road, new signs, and speed warning devices. And more research on pedestrian safety in Ukiah is underway for City Council consideration, including bulb-out curbing and warning lights embedded into the roadway at crosswalk locations.
A number of pedestrians have been hit by motor vehicles while using crosswalks near the Fairgrounds on North State Street (and other locations in Ukiah), and these accidents almost always result in significant injuries. This is especially alarming when you know that these crosswalks are frequently used by students traveling to and from school.
We hope the new crosswalk improvements will help reduce speed in the area, and more importantly, increase driver attention and awareness about pedestrians in crosswalks on North State Street and throughout Ukiah.
In 2014, the Ukiah Police Department (UPD) responded to eleven pedestrian versus vehicle injury accidents, including one fatal pedestrian accident at E. Gobbi Street and S. Orchard Avenue. Two of the eleven accidents (18 percent) were in residential, routes-to-school locations, and the remaining nine were in high traffic zones like State Street and Gobbi Street.
So far in 2015, four pedestrians have been injured after being hit by a vehicle in a crosswalk (including the most recent injury accident involving a student at N. State Street and the Fairgrounds entrance). All four of these accidents were in high traffic zones like State Street, Perkins Street and Orchard Avenue.
Last year, Ukiah had a 47 percent increase in motor vehicle accidents that resulted in property-only damage, and a 22 percent increase in injury vehicle accidents—those are big increases.
Because of the danger to students in school zone crosswalks and the potential for injury accidents for all pedestrians throughout Ukiah, I have asked UPD officers to spend time each day on speed and traffic safety, if they can. Officers will direct their enforcement activities in neighborhoods where residents commonly complain about speeders and in areas where student pedestrians commonly walk to school.
You may have noticed that our officers are enforcing traffic violations near school zones before and after school lately. As a driver, please know that we are not out to get you; rather, we are out to keep everyone safe. Want to avoid a ticket? Just stop speeding, and be sure to watch for pedestrians.
Nationally, 86 percent of all speeding-related traffic fatalities occurred on local roadways (not highways). We don’t want those fatalities here, so stay alert and obey posted speed limits, especially in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
Driving above the posted speed limit (especially in high traffic areas) dramatically increases the chances that a motorist will be involved in a crash—putting themselves, their passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians at tremendous risk.
Nationally in 2010, speeding was a factor in 28 percent of fatal crashes on dry roads, and in 33 percent of fatal crashes on wet roads. When drivers speed, they have a harder time slowing their vehicle to steer safely around danger (an unexpected curve, another vehicle, or a hazardous object in the road). In school zones or neighborhoods, speeding makes it more difficult to stop in time for children or other pedestrians crossing the road.
Among drivers involved in fatal crashes, young males are the most likely to speed. During 2010, more than a third of male drivers under age 20 who were involved in a fatal crash were speeding at the time of the crash.
Our goal is to save lives. Please remember that posted speed limits are intended to keep people safe. Our roadways can be dangerous, especially near crosswalks, and speed limits and pedestrian laws are designed to protect everyone—drivers, passengers, pedestrians—everyone!
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.