Santa Maria Police will increase staffing to conduct a bike and pedestrian safety enforcement operation Thursday in an effort to reduce collision deaths and injuries in certain parts of the city.
The operation is one of 56 traffic operations funded by a $260,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and one of several specifically focusing on bike and pedestrian safety that will be conducted over the next 12 months.
During the operation, police officers will observe pedestrians, drivers and bike riders, looking for violations within locations that have been pinpointed, according to Santa Maria Police Chief Phil Hansen.
The locations were selected by Santa Maria Police based on more than 228 injury collisions over the last three years involving pedestrians and bicyclists, and resulting in four deaths, Hansen said.
The Santa Maria California Highway Patrol announced it has openings for its next Start Smart class on Jan. 13. The classes are designed to address traffic safety issues to newly-licensed drivers aged 15 to 20 and their parents or guardians.
Special attention will be directed toward drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and any other dangerous violation.
Police will also watch for observed violations of pedestrians illegally crossing the street or failing to yield to drivers that have the right of way, he said, adding that pedestrians should only cross in marked crosswalks or at corners.
Bicyclists will be stopped and issued citations if they fail to follow the same traffic laws that apply to motorists, Hansen said.