TPD to operate new crosswalk enforcement program

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A new crosswalk enforcement program scheduled at the end of March hopes to raise awareness on road safety for pedestrians.

Tucson Police will use grant money from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety to conduct the operation.

It entails using a decoy officer in plain clothes who will cross a street using a crosswalk while a spotter officer will watch for drivers who fail to yield. If the driver does not stop or fails to yield, the spotter will radio another

officer in a police vehicle who will make a traffic stop.

The operation is one leg of a public safety campaign designed to educate the public about pedestrian road safety, in the same way that DUI checkpoints aim to educate drivers about the dangers of drunk driving.

Tucson's Pedestrian Advisory Committee discussed the campaign at its meeting on Wednesday night.

Tucson Department of Transportation's Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager Ann Chanecka said the crosswalk enforcement is not about targeting drivers but to be used as an educational tool.

“We're trying to raise awareness and encourage people to understand what the laws are,” Chanecka said.

The grim statistics are strong incentives for the city to pursue the program.

PAC reports nearly 1 in 4 people killed in traffic accidents in Tucson, is a pedestrian.

There have been four deadly pedestrian crashes in Tucson in 2015 so far, according to Tucson Police.

"The City of Tucson is a pedestrian-safety focus city from the Federal Highway Administration, because of our high crash rate. One fatal crash is too many each year so we're really looking at ways to reduce our crashes," Chanecka said.

Arizona law states drivers must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, including unmarked crosswalks.

Drivers also cannot pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. They must also exercise "due care" to avoid hitting a pedestrian.

No specifics are officially released yet, but Tucson Police expects to conduct the operation on a single day in area near the University of Arizona.

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