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San Francisco trains more motorcycle officers for traffic enforcement

San Francisco is deploying more motorcycle officers from the Police Department’s Traffic Company to patrol city streets during the month of April, which happens to be Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Supervisors Sandra Lee Fewer and Rafael Mandelman announced Friday an increase of solo police motorcyclists to help enforce traffic laws in The City. Fewer said at a press conference near the Golden Gate Senior Center in her district:

“We have worked together, Supervisor Mandelman and I with the chief of police, we are pleased to announce that we have put through a training class for more solo motorcyclists and is about to start a new class also.”

Both supervisors held a hearing last year to find that The City’s traffic company had a total of 37 solo motorcyclists with about eight on patrol on any given day due to scheduling and shifts.

Mandelman said:

“Enforcement is key and we can’t do that without the officers.”

SFPD Commander Teresa Ewins, assigned to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said 10 officers had graduated from the most recent class and expects to start another class in May.

Police continue to focus on the top five violations that cause a collision between vehicle and pedestrian or bicyclist.

The top five violations include drivers running red lights, running stop signs, failure to yield to a pedestrian while turning, speeding, and violating a pedestrian’s right-of-way.

Police Chief Bill Scott said the department has been meeting its goal of issuing 50 percent of tickets that focus the five violations:

“Our goal is education as much as it is enforcement. When you happen to get pulled over by an officer, we really want to educate the public in terms of making our streets safer.”

While distracted driving is not part of the top five violations, he said officers will also be looking out for drivers texting or talking on a cell phone while driving:

“We have so many devices that are our disposable these days. Distracting driving is a huge issue that impacts our traffic safety. We’re going to be focusing on that as well.”

Scott is also pleading with drivers to stay at a scene when they are involved in crash. He said there were eight hit-and-run crashes and five of them remain unsolved.

He also wants witnesses to the hit-and-run crashes to come forward with any information that could help police.

One of the most recent hit-and-run crashes that remains unsolved includes Zhao Guan, 64, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver at California Street and 18th Avenue while in the crosswalk on Feb. 26.

Guan was hit in the Richmond District represented by Fewer.

Jodie Mederios, executive director of Walk San Francisco, said while seniors only make up 15 percent of The City’s population, approximately 50 percent of seniors make up the total number of pedestrian fatalities annually:

“What kind of city can we be if we are losing our seniors to traffic violence.”

Police officials announced that they will conduct “Traffic Safety Enforcement Operations” on April 18, 22 and 16. Enforcement operations will focus on areas where there have been significant number of pedestrian and bike crashes.

One operation was already been conducted on April 9.

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