WATSONVILLE, Calif. - Officers in Watsonville are cracking down on distracted driving. They went to a location well known for bicycle and pedestrian collisions, a site where just weeks ago a 26-year old woman was critically injured by a distracted driver.
Watsonville has made headlines after being ranked the worst city in the state for cyclist and pedestrian involved collisions. Now recent funding has allowed officers to do more specific enforcement, like today's decoy operation, in order to deter distracted driving.
The operation happened this morning at the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Holm Road in Watsonville. It involved a decoy pedestrian, and several officers nearby waiting to catch drivers who were not paying attention.
“I saw like maybe 6 or 7 of them, and then on the way back I saw a whole bunch more…and I was pretty amazed on seeing that many cops out just one road in Watsonville,” said pedestrian Ricardo Smith.
Even with Officers obviously present, it didn't take very long before they caught traffic violators.
“We issued 31 citations in roughly 3 hours this morning, and violations ranged from vehicles failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians and also cellphone violations as well,” said Sgt. Thul at Watsonville Police Department.
The intersection of Airport Boulevard and Holm is a commercial area with the crosswalk marked by two white-painted lines. It's a common area for pedestrian involved wrecks, the latest example on April 4th. That's where 26-year old Celestine Glover was hit by a distracted driver on their cellphone. Celestine remains in critical condition at Stanford Hospital. The driver was apparently using their phone for navigation purposes, and did not see the pedestrian crossing.
“ These days people are distracted, not only by their cellphones, but if you get into any type of newer vehicle, it’s almost like there’s an onboard computer in the dash, and I think that distracts a lot of people," said Sgt. Thul.
However, at least some drivers say it's not always distracted driving causing the incidents.
“The foliage on the west corner of that intersection obstructs peoples view. You actually have to pull out beyond the pedestrian lane to see oncoming traffic," said driver Kathy Powers.
Several pedestrians struggled to make it across the busy intersection safely today. Sgt. Thul had this final advice for pedestrians and cyclists.
“ Remain vigilant…sometimes there may be enough room for somebody to see you and stop but don’t let that fool you and think that they will see you and they will stop,” said Sgt. Thul.
The city of Watsonville Police Department received a grant through the California Office of Traffic Safety. This grant provided the funding so that officers could do this specific enforcement regularly going forward.