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City to Launch Anti-Speeding Enforcement Initiative in October

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which manages all surface transportation in the city, today joined the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) to announce the next phase of the city’s Safe Speeds SF Campaign in support of Vision Zero, the city’s goal to eliminate all traffic deaths.


With a mission to boost street safety and educate drivers about the serious consequences of speeding – a leading cause of traffic deaths in San Francisco – Safe Speeds SF kicked off in early September with a radio ad campaign.


Starting in October and continuing for an entire year, there will be a new, strategic speed enforcement initiative on San Francisco’s high-injury and high-speed corridors. While a map of the corridors targeted for the high visibility speeding enforcement initiatives is publicly available, the exact timing and location of enforcement operations will not be shared to ensure an effective campaign.


“Speed is a killer and we should do everything in our power to slow down reckless drivers – through enforcement, education and engineering – to create safe streets,” said Mayor Ed Lee, whose recent Executive Directive on Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety calls for greater police speed enforcement and increased Vision Zero efforts. “And we need to focus speed enforcement in the areas where data has shown it is most needed.”


As a component of the Safe Speeds SF campaign, the yearlong enforcement initiative will consist of a weekly traffic enforcement surge of approximately 132 hours a week.

Approximately 25 percent of the surge will be focused on 12 priority corridors. The remainder of the enforcement surge will be focused on 14 secondary corridors and other city streets where speeding is a known issue.


Citations will be generated by LIDAR speed detection units, which ensure that enforcement is focused on unsafe speeding, and not individuals. This targeted enforcement effort is just another tool in Vision Zero’s data-driven quest for safety. 32 new LIDAR units were purchased for the initiative under the city’s overall Safe Speeds SF campaign. Safe Speeds SF has been made possible by 2 million dollars in federal grants, which the SFMTA secured through California’s Active Transportation Program.


“We’re making the targeted enforcement map public because the goal is not to write tickets, it’s to get drivers to slow down,” said Acting SFPD Chief Toney Chaplin. “Knowing where this enforcement push is happening should end dangerous driving behavior on these crash-prone streets. If drivers still choose to speed, our officers will certainly enforce the law.”


Using data that pinpointed areas of high rates of speeding and collisions with people on bikes and walking, the Safe Speeds SF speeding enforcement zones were identified by the SFMTA, the Department of Public Health, SFPD and a steering committee that included community advocacy groups. When the Safe Speeds SF campaign ends in fall 2017, after a year, city agencies will have new data and analysis about enforcement’s role in citywide speed deterrence.


“Achieving the city’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic fatalities means taking proactive steps to stop deadly crashes from happening,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation, Ed Reiskin. “The Safe Speeds SF awareness campaign is about changing unsafe behavior. With speed being one of the leading causes of traffic deaths in San Francisco, we need to use all the tools at our disposal to stop speeding, including targeted enforcement.”


People who bike and walk are the most vulnerable road users and account for over half of traffic deaths in San Francisco, according to Vision Zero data from recent years. Research by the city’s Department of Public Health also shows that high rates of pedestrian injuries and fatalities occur in low-income, non-English speaking communities with high densities of seniors, disabled residents, and populations reliant on walking and public transit.


“With at least 10 people injured every day on our streets, we have to treat traffic deaths and injuries as a real public health issue,” said Department of Public Health Director, Barbara Garcia. “By targeting one of the leading, preventable causes of them – speed – we can move closer to our Vision Zero goal.”


San Francisco adopted Vision Zero as a policy in 2014, committing to build better and safer streets, educate the public on traffic safety, enforce traffic laws, and adopt policy changes that save lives. Research has shown that lowering car speeds dramatically improves the likelihood someone will survive a collision. For example, if you hit someone while driving 30 MPH in a 25 MPH zone, you’re almost twice as likely to kill them.


"No neighborhood should have to suffer the burden of traffic violence, when we already have the proven tools to prevent these predictable collisions," said Natalie Burdick, Walk San Francisco's outreach director. "To right the injustices on our streets, we must address the top cause of fatal traffic crashes – speeding – which takes a disproportionate toll on San Francisco's low-income communities, communities of color, people with disabilities, seniors, and children."