Today the Belmont Police department held true to a promise to hold a decoy pedestrian sting operation along several locations on Ralston Ave. and El Camino Real in Belmont.
The message was clear; beware of pedestrians in the crosswalk. Unfortunately it also netted one accident. Sergeant Brake mentioned in the official Belmont Police press release that the decoy had yet to step off of the curb and into the crosswalk when a truck that stopped suddenly to yield to the pedestrian and was hit from behind. However, a witness spoke to us stated the decoy had in fact actuated the crossing light and stepped into the crosswalk causing the driver to react quickly and the driver following too closely behind to not react quickly enough.
To hand out this many citations is amazing in the short span of time the decoy operation was in progress. It just goes to show how important this operation was to elevate public awareness.
As for the unfortunate accident that occurred, it could have happened any day with or without decoys.
The goal of the operation was to raise driver awareness of pedestrians. Five (5) plain clothes “decoys”, all personnel from the involved agencies, crossed at intersections, in marked crosswalks. “Our goal is to raise drivers’ awareness of their responsibility to stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks”, said Belmont Police Sergeant BrakÃ©, who was in charge of the operation.
In all, officers made 93 enforcement stops and issued 77 citations for pedestrian right of way violations. There was one traffic collision during the operation, at Ralston Ave & Villa Ave, when a driver, who had stopped for a pedestrian, who had not yet stepped off the curb, was rear ended by another vehicle. “That driver was following too closely and told officers he assumed that the vehicle in front of him would keep going” said Sergeant Brake’. “The driver who stopped did the right thing”, “This shows how important it is for drivers to be alert and maintain a safe stopping distance”, Sergeant Brake’ added.
Since 2007, the City of Belmont has averaged three (3) auto-pedestrian collisions per year, all of which resulted in minor to moderate injuries. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), pedestrians represent 18% of all traffic related fatalities and almost 5% of all traffic related injuries. In 2008 almost 650 pedestrians were killed in California and over 13,000 were injured, according to OTS.