September 16, 2009 in City, Idaho

Police targeting unsafe drivers this week

Patrols focusing on aggressive drivers, pedestrian safety
By The Spokesman-Review
 
The law
Washington pedestrian traffic laws state that a driver of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this law, “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.

Two special emphasis patrols are targeting unsafe drivers this week: One today in North Idaho is focusing on aggressive drivers, and another Thursday near Gonzaga University is involving pedestrian safety.

The Idaho State Police announced that its effort will target drivers who speed, tailgate and cut off other vehicles in the Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene areas. In particular, officers will be watching for the aggressive actions around commercial vehicles.

Officers said that they want to reduce the number of collisions involving commercial rigs because accidents involving larger trucks cause bigger monetary and human losses, as well as delays when they occur.

“We want to reduce the number of people affected by aggressive driving,” Lt. Bill Reese, of the ISP commercial safety division, said in a press release.

Ten to 15 additional officers will be working high-crash areas today, but those areas were not specified. Today’s work is part of a statewide effort.

On Thursday, Spokane Police Department’s traffic unit will be writing tickets for crosswalk law violations in the Gonzaga University area after the department received numerous complaints regarding pedestrian safety there.

The college district is in the vicinity of Sharp Avenue and Hamilton Street with a 25 mph speed limit posted along Sharp Avenue on the north side of the university’s main campus buildings west of Hamilton.

Police are reminding drivers that not all crosswalks are marked; in fact, most crosswalks in the city are not.

Washington law states motorists must give pedestrians in crosswalks the space of at least one lane beyond the lane in which their vehicle is traveling, and two or more lanes on multi-lane streets such as Hamilton and Division.

On one-way streets, drivers must give pedestrians the entire width of the street, police said.

The problem in Spokane is substantial. In 2008, the city had 127 accidents involving pedestrians with 101 injuries, making it a priority for the traffic unit.

Police said the fatality risk for a pedestrian goes from 25 percent when being struck by a vehicle going 25 mph to 75 percent for a vehicle going 30 mph.


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