July 31, 2008
Police Use Decoy to Catch Inattentive Drivers
By Pat Reavy Deseret News
SOUTH SALT LAKE -- In an effort to make motorists more aware of pedestrians and to increase safety for people crossing busy streets, police here Wednesday conducted a special crosswalk enforcement effort.For four hours, South Salt Lake police officer Swen Heinberg, dressed in shorts and flip-flops, crossed 2700 South at 430 East, in a crosswalk. Standing in the shadows away from the street were two officers observing, keeping track of the violations and radioing to other officers waiting down the street in their patrol cars to pull over drivers who failed to yield to Heinberg.
A total of 16 vehicles were stopped and 15 drivers were issued citations for failing to yield to pedestrians. Police also issued tickets for miscellaneous offenses, such as not having insurance.
In addition to failing to yield to pedestrians, officers were also on the lookout for jaywalkers and also issued tickets to those who didn't use a crosswalk or crossed against the light.
It's an operation South Salt Lake Police have conducted several times in the past, especially along State Street. Sometimes in the past, so many motorists have failed to yield to pedestrians that there weren't enough officers available to pull them over, according to police.
On Wednesday, South Salt Lake police detective Gary Keller said the department wanted to concentrate on residential areas. The area near 2700 South is a busy road, especially between State Street and 700 East. But there are also several homes along the road, a convenience store that many residents walk to, and Lincoln Elementary School just a short walk away.
Heinberg heard the sound of screeching brakes often, even though he gave all motorists ample time to see him. In one incident where a driver failed to yield and was pulled over, he simply noted that he was very embarrassed.
In another incident, a vehicle with a Salt Lake County government logo was pulled over after blowing through the crosswalk without yielding to the pedestrian.
South Salt Lake, along with other police agencies in the Salt Lake Valley, said they will conduct similar enforcement efforts in the future, especially as the start of the school year draws closer.
Keller said pedestrians also need to take responsibility to watch out for cars and not assume that motorists always see them.
Last week, a 50-year-old man was killed in Lindon when he ran out in front of a vehicle.
A 60-year-old woman was killed near 1400 West and 1000 North in Salt Lake in March after being hit by a car after not crossing the street in a crosswalk.
About 40 Utahns are killed and 1,000 injured each year in auto- pedestrian accidents, according to law enforcers.
Nationally, auto-pedestrian accidents are the No. 2 cause of death among 5- to 14-year-old children, according to the Davis County Health Department.
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