Crackdown: police conducting safety detail issue 27 tickets
Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.
Smokers sitting outside the Ayers Medical Plaza on Tuesday morning were giving a thumbs up and yelling words of encouragement to officers patrolling on Northeast Second Street. The officers were looking for motorists, bike riders and pedestrians violating Florida's pedestrian laws.
"We get this all the time, especially on the east side of the city, where people love having us do this," said Gainesville Police Sgt. Joe Raulerson, "except not the people who get the tickets."
Raulerson was among a handful of officers from the Gainesville and University of Florida police departments who were enforcing crosswalk laws in two locations Tuesday morning.
The enforcement detail is part of a two-week crackdown under a pedestrian safety campaign started earlier this year by the police departments and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.
The campaign was begun after police determined an average of three pedestrians a week were involved in accidents in Gainesville. A subsequent study showed slightly more than 20 percent of drivers in the city had been yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks. In a news release about the study, officials said many pedestrians were seen getting caught in the middle of the street while crossing.
Earlier this year, officials used a $94,000 federal grant to erect signs to educate drivers about Florida's pedestrian laws and notify them about how many drivers were yielding to pedestrians. The 4-foot-by-8-foot green signs with white letters were put up around the city to remind motorists and pedestrians of the progress being made during the campaign. The signs say "Gainesville drivers yielding to pedestrians" and list the percentage of drivers who yielded during the previous week and the highest percentage of drivers who have yielded during the campaign. The record so far this year is 66 percent compliance.
Under state law, drivers are required to yield to pedestrians who have entered crosswalks at intersections and must stop when necessary to let a pedestrian cross the street. While many crosswalks are marked, Raulerson said, drivers also must yield or stop for pedestrians at intersections without pavement markings.
Gainesville Police spokeswoman Cpl. Tscharna Senn said that during an hour in front of St. Patrick's Catholic School at 550 N.E. 16th Ave. on Tuesday morning, officers issued tickets to 12 drivers for failing to yield to a plainclothes officer crossing the street. The hour in front of Ayers resulted in 15 tickets being issued to motorists and bicyclists.
Motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians will be subject to a $154 fine. Pedestrians who choose not to use a crosswalk could be issued a $52.50 ticket.
The enforcement will continue at various times and places for the next two weeks, Raulerson said.
Contact Karen Voyles at 359-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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