Clark County law enforcement agencies were keeping their eyes on pedestrians Monday, as well as on drivers who speed past them, as part of an initiative aimed at keeping pedestrian traffic deaths down.
Officers are patrolling and issuing citations to motorists who are violating pedestrian safety laws, according to a release from the Target Zero task force for Clark County. They’re focusing on drivers who are speeding and distracted, or ignoring other traffic laws that put walkers at risk.
Officials hope the targeted enforcement will keep this year’s number of deaths and injuries down.
In 2014, there was a five-year high of eight pedestrian deaths and 19 serious injuries, according to Target Zero, Washington’s strategic roadmap for eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.
“Since then, pedestrian deaths and serious injuries in Clark County have been decreasing,” said the county’s task force.
According to preliminary data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, there were three pedestrian traffic deaths and five serious injuries as of midyear 2017.
In order to keep those numbers down, Monday’s enforcement focused on problematic areas identified with safety commission data.
Hilary Torres, the Target Zero regional manager, was on hand Monday afternoon as Vancouver police focused on one of the city’s problem spots, Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard and Northeast Stapleton Road near the Kyocera International Inc. building. Buses recently changed how they maneuver in the area, and drivers have been spotted violating pedestrian laws.
Torres said a plainclothes officer was informing pedestrians of violations, and generally letting them off with warnings.
“Education and outreach is the key,” Torres said. “And this area really needs some attention, based on the data.”
There will be more enforcement throughout 2018 — about once per month through September.
Grant money distributed by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission allows all participating law enforcement to dedicate officers during those days. Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said an officer can focus on the enforcement without having to worry about other calls for service.
The participating police departments include Vancouver, Battle Ground, La Center, Ridgefield and Washougal, and the Washington State Patrol and Clark County Sheriff’s Office.