The following is the entire response from the city of Santa Monica to a series of questions asked by Santa Monica Next editor Jason Islas following a series of fatal crashes in Santa Monica. The questions were: 

Just last year, the City Council unanimously adopted a “Vision Zero” statement as part of Santa Monica’s Pedestrian Action Plan. What progress has been taken to assure that Santa Monica is moving toward eliminating death and major injuries resulting from traffic? Why does this continue to happen? What immediate steps can be taken to lessen the risks to people using our streets? What long term steps? What are we currently doing to assure that these seemingly avoidable incidents aren’t repeated? Islas also asked about a report on social media that the crossing lights at the site of the most recent fatality may not have been functioning.
The below answers are unedited except for formatting and style. Excerpts from these responses were published in Islas’ article, “Recent Spate of Fatal Crashes in Santa Monica a Sobering Reminder of Gaps in Street Safety“.

The City continues to actively implement efforts to enhance pedestrian and bike safety with the Santa Monica community as our partner. Safety is a top priority that encompasses education, enforcement, programs, and infrastructure.

DEDICATED TO SAFETY

The recent spate of both fatal and injury incidents involving cars and pedestrians is deeply concerning. It unfortunately appears to be part of a larger pattern of auto/pedestrian collisions for which a number of plausible causes have been advanced. [Editor’s note: City Manager Rick Cole noted that the “larger pattern” referred to here refers to the fact that traffic collisions and resulting deaths and injuries are up region-wide, not just in Santa Monica]

We are currently analyzing both historic and new data for a report scheduled to go to Council on May 9th that will seek to pinpoint, to the extent possible, how these incidents fit into larger patterns here in Santa Monica and beyond. If conditions have changed, we will have to adapt and adjust our policy initiatives to meet those conditions. Achieving a goal as ambitious as Vision Zero will require flexibility, tenacity, commitment of resources, consistent enforcement, vigilant monitoring and community participation. There are no magic answers, but Santa Monica is part of a national movement committed to no longer tolerate senseless and tragic loss of life and life-altering injuries as tragic “accidents.” Our dedication to safety means that we intend to learn from all that has happened here and in other communities committed to Vision Zero so that we can all help to achieve the ambitious and vital goal of preventing deaths and injuries.

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POLICE DEPARTMENT SAFETY EFFORTS

The Santa Monica Police Department’s Traffic Division has engaged in a variety of traffic education and enforcement operations throughout the City of Santa Monica. Efforts range from Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Checkpoints, Driving Under the Influence Saturation Patrols, Traffic Enforcement Operations, Motorcycle Safety Operations, Distracted Driving, Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Operations, Public Service Announcements, Social Media, Community Meetings and Interdepartmental Collaboration.

Directed Enforcement

2016 Operations

The Santa Monica Police Department conducted (6) DUI Checkpoints and in doing so screened 6,527 vehicles. Officers made contact with 1,905 Drivers and administered 158 Field Sobriety Tests. Eleven Arrests were made as a result of the checkpoints. In addition, officers conducted 20 directed patrols in an attempt to curb Driving Under the Influence. During these patrols, 410 vehicles were screened, 160 Field Sobriety Tests were administered sobriety tests and 22 people were arrested for DUI.

Throughout the year, officers engage in enforcement areas of the City based on complaints from the residents, traffic collisions and/or officer’s observations.  In order to address the concerns and enhance safety, officers conducted 35 general Traffic Enforcement Operations and issued 676 Citations for various violations such as, but not limited to, distracted driving, stop sign violation and right of way offenses.

To address motorcycle safety in the City of Santa Monica, officers conducted 11 Motorcycles Operations. Of the 124 motorcycles stopped, 76 were issued citations, 135 cars were stopped and 104 citations were issued.  

Distracted driving and walking is always an important issue to address as many people are constantly looking at their personal electronic devices and less aware of their surroundings. The Traffic Enforcement Unit conducted 5 Distracted Driving Operations where 149 vehicles were stopped and 122 citations were issued for driving while texting, reading texts while driving, not utilizing a hands-free device, etc.

Pedestrian and bicycle safety is another directed effort. Officers incorporated directed education efforts to areas known to have the large amounts of pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Officers focused in the Downtown Santa Monica area, the Lincoln corridor, Pico Blvd, Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd and intersections where the new pedestrian scrambles are utilized. Officers conducted 34 Bicycle/Pedestrian Operations, made 288 bicycle stops, issued 227 citations to bicycles, stopped 407 pedestrians and issued 337 citations. They made 281 vehicle stops and issued 229 citations.

2017 Operations

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has conducted 23 Traffic Enforcement operations in which 155 citations have been issued. One Distracted Driving Operation resulted in 18 citations being issued to drivers. Officers have focused heavily on pedestrian/bicycle safety and conducted 21 operations. Seventy-two citations were issued to bicyclists, 59 citations issued to pedestrians and 545 citations issued to vehicles. In 2017 there has been one (1) DUI checkpoint in which 917 vehicles were screened which resulted in four arrests.

Social Media and Education

Officers have conducted traffic safety presentations at WISE, local schools, and during the Police Department’s Community Academy. Community Affairs Staff, Neighborhood Resource Officers and traffic personnel have attended community events, business groups and neighborhood groups to provide traffic safety tips and information. In addition to enforcement and education, the Santa Monica Police Department has broadcast via our social media outlets a variety of public safety announcements educating the community how to move safely through the city, pedestrian safety, distracted driving, how to cross in the new pedestrian scrambles, etc. In addition, traffic safety awareness messages are routinely posted on the Police Department’s and City of Santa Monica’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

This is a list and links to our recent PSAs:

  1. Santa Monica Scramble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnVlWXN-8cU
  2. Pokemon Go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DLVF904mMk
  3. Don’t Be That Guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeRPmp8GwZ8
  4. Bike Safety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pl_3YiYABZU
  5. Moving Safely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGw4HkLzlN0
  6. Parking Lot Safety (SMC): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDUAka_lQGE&feature=youtu.be
  7. Skateboard Safety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUp_IMs34QI&feature=youtu.be
  8. Pay Attention/Look Up (SMC): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVAK4HwrVi8&feature=youtu.be
  9. Skateboard/Pedestrian (SMC): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts4UWblkSBs&feature=youtu.be
  10. Phone Distractions (SMC): https://youtu.be/clr9BN4nOQA
  11. Move Safe Senior/Youth PSA: https://youtu.be/qXPqw3NM6nQ
  12. Be Safe, Be Seen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeRs6IyLuc8

 Interdepartmental Collaboration

Traffic safety is not solely the responsibility of the Police Department and therefore our collaborative efforts are equally as important as our enforcement and education programs. Police personnel work closely with the City’s Transportation Management Division to discuss and provide input on traffic safety programs such as Vision Zero and Go with the Flow.  The Police Department has received traffic safety grants from the Office of Traffic Safety to fund programs such as the Move Safe campaign as well as STEP grants to fund many of the directed enforcement efforts. Staff attend regional and national training conferences on traffic enforcement and safety information. Officers meet with other law enforcement agencies to exchange ideas and share enforcement resources. An example of this is the collaborative effort of Santa Monica Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department to engage in education and enforcement along the Expo corridor.

Internal collaboration within the Police Department ensures that the traffic safety efforts encompass a variety of individuals and not exclusively the Traffic Enforcement Unit.  This includes, but not limited to, the Patrol Section deploying an officer dedicated to traffic matters, Community Affairs engaging in outreach and education, Neighborhood Resource Officers connecting with residents and businesses, Crime Analysis providing traffic collision data, Traffic Services Officers preventing traffic congestion which leads to potential collisions, administrative staff seeking grant opportunities, and the Social Media team sending out regular safety information.

The efforts of enforcement, education, outreach and collaboration by the Police Department are ongoing. As the roadways are shared by increased numbers of vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and now light rail, the traffic safety efforts will continue to evolve with collision prevention being the primary goal.

SAFETY AND THE PEDESTRIAN ACTION PLAN

The Pedestrian Action Plan was adopted in 2016, and includes the City’s target for “Vision Zero” to eliminate fatal injury and severe crashes in ten years. The Plan includes programs such as Safe Routes to Schools, Open Streets, Placemaking and Pedestrian Lighting. Santa Monica’s Safe Routes program actively encourages safe walking for kids and families.

Downtown has seen the installation of 12 all-way scramble crossings and 2 creative crosswalks that raise pedestrian visibility and implement placemaking. In addition, pedestrian lighting is being installed on Michigan Avenue in phases.

Public safety is a consistent message communicated by multiple City departments and groups throughout the year to encourage people to be alert, and follow the rules of the road. Just a few of the channels for these messages are:   

    • Information tables at events like National Night Out, Fall Festival, COAST, Santa Monica’s Open Streets Festival, and many others
    • Seascape articles and graphics
    • Inclusion of mobility messaging in e-newsletters (i.e. Sustainability, Breeze, Employee Transportation Coordinators (ETC) with businesses)
    • Transportation Tuesday in SM Daily Press
    • City outreach efforts, such as the Move Safe campaign, safety messages on 2017 parking hangtags, and social media

Projects in the Pedestrian Action Plan are also underway consistent with the City’s adopted Capital Improvement Program. Planning and design of new sidewalks near the Bergamot/26th Street Expo Station is underway, along with additional pedestrian lighting near the 17thStreet/SMC Station. Just last month the Council approved plans for construction of curb bulb outs near Edison Language Academy in the Pico Neighborhood, which will start construction later this year.

SAFETY AND THE BIKE ACTION PLAN

Since the Bike Action Plan was adopted in 2011, consistent work on implementation has increased the citywide bike network from 37 to 110 miles. Additional bike safety efforts include:

  • Santa Monica Mobility reinforces safety awareness and shares roadway safety information regularly through:
    • CREST afterschool bike skills training
    • Bike rodeos for kids at festivals, events
    • Breeze trainings with CCSM residents
    • In Breeze and ETC/employer e-newsletters
    • Transportation Tuesday in SM Daily Press
    • Raising transportation awareness through GoSaMo outreach
    • Through information tables at events like National Night Out
  • Incorporating public safety messages on City materials – like Move Safe campaign on parking hangtags, and social media
  • Breeze free helmet distribution made possible with transportation grants
  • On-going implementation of planned and programmed projects:
    • Downtown Pedestrian Scrambles
    • Colorado Esplanade
    • SAMOHI Safe Routes to School project
    • Green bike lanes on Main/2nd Streets and Broadway
    • Lead Pedestrian Intervals at signalized intersections
    • Michigan Avenue traffic circles, and lighting (lighting currently being installed) from Lincoln to 14th
  • Safe Routes to School programs – Bike It Walk It Bus It twice a year, annual family bike festival

TRAFFIC LIGHT INQUIRY

With regards to inquiries about the traffic light, given that this tragic collision just occurred 3 days ago and the City’s investigation into it is ongoing, we are not able to comment further on this specific intersection or the fatal collision at this time. However, our investigation will be including the existing and planned crosswalk enhancement systems there and in other locations in the City.