Extra police patrols will be in Atherton on Wednesday, March 4, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Their focus: driving behavior that endangers pedestrians, and pedestrian behavior that interferes with drivers' right-of-way, according to Cpl. Brett Murphy of the Burlingame Police Department.
The patrols, which will also be conducted in Burlingame today, are part of a county enforcement program that receives funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through a grant to the California Office of Traffic Safety.
Officers will concentrate at known danger zones -- places where collisions between vehicles and pedestrians have occurred.
They'll be looking in particular for drivers who speed, who make illegal turns, who ignore stop signs and traffic signals, and who do not yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, Cpl. Murphy said.
Atherton police have had to deal with two fatal collisions involving pedestrians in the past two years. In 2012 around the state, 612 pedestrians died in traffic accidents, Cpl. Murphy said.
Studies show that both pedestrians and drivers are inconsistent in the ways they follow traffic laws. Whether driving or walking, people text, talk on cellphones and listen to music, he said.
If officers see pedestrians crossing a street illegally (jaywalking) or failing to yield to drivers who have the right-of-way, they will be ticketed, Cpl. Murphy said. "Pedestrians should cross the street only in marked crosswalks or at corners," he said.
A national study revealed that 40 percent of pedestrians did not know that they have the right-of-way in a crosswalk and did not expect drivers to stop when a crosswalk is in use by a pedestrian.
Drivers should take extra care to look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions; slow down when approaching an area where pedestrians are likely to be; stop at the crosswalk line so other drivers get the hint that the crosswalk is in use; and be cautious when backing up.
Pedestrians should be predictable; walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible; pay attention to what is going on around you; make eye contact with drivers; wear bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night, or carry a light; and look both ways before crossing a street.