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October 10, 2005

Traffic plan pays off: Accidents down, citations up

Photo: Police Officer in car
NOT SO FAST—Increased traffic enforcement on campus to slow down speeders—and reduce accidents as a result—keeps Sacramento State police officers such as Anthony Tabadisto busy.

Stepped-up traffic enforcement on the Sacramento State campus has resulted in a steep drop in vehicle accidents and a sharp increase in the number of citations issued for traffic violations, according to the latest safety report issued by the Department of Public Safety.

“There has been a concern about the speed of traffic on the south end of campus, along stretches such as State University Drive West,” said Ken Barnett, director of public safety. “As a result, we wanted to have increased visibility on the main roadways to slow down traffic for everyone’s safety. And it looks like we are beginning to have some success.”

Barnett said that traffic flow and vehicle accidents on campus have become more of a focus for Public Safety as the University has added perimeter roads and created access to student parking from Folsom Blvd. In response, the department created a traffic plan that includes enforcement and education to deal with the estimated 28,000 vehicles that come to campus each school day.

Part of the plan calls for making officers and their cars very visible to motorists on campus.

‘We are not trying to trap drivers, but enforce the traffic rules we have,” Barnett said. “We want to remind people that the speed limit is 25 miles per hour. However, the average speed has been creeping up to about 35 miles per hour or more on those stretches,” Barnett said, adding that those roads also include State University Drive South and State University Drive East.

As part of the traffic plan, officers made more vehicle stops last year, 1,402 in 2004 compared to 1,189 in 2003 and issued more traffic citations for infractions such as speeding in 2004 (511) than in 2003 (384). Officers also made nearly three times as many misdemeanor traffic arrests for offenses such as driving with a suspended license in 2004 (88) than in 2003 (33). “It is during these stops that officers can advise motorists about safety and speed issues, but we also uncover more serious violations,” Barnett said.

Meanwhile, the number of vehicle accidents dropped by more than half from 126 in 2003 to 58 in 2004, a decrease that Barnett attributed to the increased traffic enforcement.

Traffic isn’t the only area that received additional attention from public safety. Barnett said an emphasis on crime prevention can be linked to a substantial reduction in the number of auto burglaries, dropping to 80 in 2004 from 124 in 2003.

“To lessen the chance of someone breaking into your car, we have tried to stress the importance of getting valuables out of sight, closing all windows, parking in a safe area and just making sure you lock your car doors, even though you are in a hurry,” Barnett said.

One of the most popular crime prevention programs on campus returns by early next year — the police officer sports card collection. Similar to baseball cards, the wallet-size, color cards feature individual pictures of police officers from the Sacramento State Department of Public Safety. The back of each card contains biographical information on the officer and a safety tip such as “Always lock up your car, bike and other valuables.”

Barnett said the cards were wildly successful when they debuted in 2001. “People were trading them around and trying to get complete sets,” he said. “The cards also helped us get people thinking about things they can do to prevent crime and it gave us visibility in helping people get to know our officers.”

To also create greater visibility, the department plans to have two officers permanently assigned to bikes patrolling the campus as well as officers spending more time on foot patrol inside campus buildings, Barnett said.

The Department of Public Safety’s Safety Report, which is issued every two years, is available online at www.csus.edu/police/.

— Ted DeAdwyler




 

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