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PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY — The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) Traffic Unit will have an additional focus on unsafe speed violations during the month of May as part of their monthly efforts to highlight the most dangers behaviors on local roads.

According to Traffic Collision Investigator Jason Olson, the city issued 671 speeding tickets in the last six months and of the 1,541 traffic collisions listed in the last year, 287 had speed as the primary collision factor. Speeding was listed as the primary factor in three fatal accidents since 2011 and the department said it is a contributing factor to many more collisions.

“Speeding is the primary or associated factor in many collisions which also creates an unnecessary increased risk of injury or death for all those utilizing the roadways,” said Olson.

According to SMPD officials, the traffic unit focuses on different dangerous behaviors each month based on an internal database that tracks the most common collision factors.

“These collision factors are then divided up for the monthly focus in no particular order other than some that coincide with national campaigns and our California Office of Traffic Safety Grant Campaigns such as distracted driving,” said Olson. “The monthly focus extends throughout the entire city, but we do use information such as citizen complaints, collision statistics, and other available data to look at specific areas as needed.”

Santa Monica’s traffic unit includes one lieutenant, one sergeant, one traffic investigator, one commercial enforcement officer, and nine motor officers. Officers are always aware of, and responding to dangerous behavior on the roads but the special enforcement months may include additional resources or specific methods relevant to the issue at hand.

Olson said the unit would reach out to drivers through press releases, use of electronic message boards and conversations with drivers.

“Traffic Enforcement Officers are extremely knowledgeable on traffic safety issues, especially when it comes to speeding,” he said. “I personally take every opportunity, when practical, to speak with people to discuss the topic whether it is during an office phone call, traffic stop, while grabbing a cup of coffee, or a formal presentation.”

According to The California Vehicle Code “no person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”

In a written statement, Santa Monica Police’s Lt. Jay Trisler said drivers should be aware of conditions that may require them to drive slower than the posted limit. Dangerous situations could include roads that are slick due to rain, rough due to construction or if the area is full of distractions.

Olson said drivers could help keep themselves, and others, safe with a little planning.

“For the upcoming year, the city of Santa Monica (and major traffic routes in and out of Santa Monica) will be conducting several road construction projects to improve traffic flow and services throughout the city,” he said. “This will slow traffic and cause congestion in some areas. I would ask that the public understand this and make the necessary time adjustments to arrive safely and on time without the need for exceeding the speed limit.”

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