As part of a continuing effort to improve traffic safety, the Santa Barbara Police Department will be conducting pedestrian crosswalk-directed enforcement operations on Friday, April 28, at several locations within the city.

Police hope that by conducting and publicizing these operations on a regular basis, motorists will be more attentive and watch for pedestrians. Officers will focus on two specific vehicle code infractions.

The first requires drivers to yield right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Unmarked crosswalks are the prolongations of curb lines at all intersections.

The second law prohibits vehicles from passing a vehicle which has stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the street. This offense is especially dangerous because pedestrians are too often lulled into a false sense of security when one vehicle stops for them.

Pedestrian fatalities are rising in California as more people use non-motorized means of transportation. Locally, the Santa Barbara Police Department has investigated 219 fatal and injury collisions involving pedestrians during the past three years.

In 2013, California witnessed 701 pedestrian deaths accounting for more than 23 percent of all roadway fatalities, much higher than the national average of 15 percent.

A national study reveals pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently and many often use cell phones, text and listen to music while walking or driving.

Only 60 percent of pedestrians said they expected drivers to stop when they were in crosswalks, even though they have the right-of-way.

The following safety tips can save lives and stop this tragedy witnessed far too often in Santa Barbara:

Drivers can:
» Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
» Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
» Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
» Be cautious when backing up; pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path. See
Pedestrians can:
» Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey signs and signals.
» Walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk.
» Pay attention to traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
» Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
» Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
» Look left-right-left before crossing a street.
Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

— Joshua Morton for Santa Barbara Police Department.