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Police take aim at traffic safety

State grant will fund flurry of operations focused on speed, distracted driving.

October 06, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
  • Glendale Police officer pulls over a driver who did not yield for a pedestrian at a marked crosswalk on Brand Blvd. at Windsor Rd. in Glendale on Wednesday, June 22, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Glendale Police officer pulls over a driver who did not…

Glendale police are getting a $200,000 state grant to fund traffic and pedestrian safety education efforts, including speed and distracted driving enforcement.

The Glendale Police Department was one of two law enforcement agencies to receive a California Office of Traffic Safety grant specifically for distracted driving enforcement or prosecution. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Department is the other agency.

While the funding is less than the $254,795 grant handed out last year, it will still pay for extra police enforcement aimed at speeding and distracted driving.

More than 2,500 traffic accidents occurred in Glendale last year, according to the Police Department, and six were fatal. More than 100 crashes involved pedestrians, and 544 people were injured.

One pedestrian has been killed so far this year in Glendale.

“Distracted driving and speed are two of the larger problems in the city of Glendale,” police Capt. Carl Povilaitis told the City Council on Tuesday.

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The grant, which must be used from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, will also pay for education about the dangers of distracted driving and pedestrian and traffic safety.

“I certainly am in favor of traffic safety regarding pedestrian, speed and especially distracted driving enforcement,” Councilman Rafi Manoukian said. “I think we should have the authority to issue tickets ourselves because I run in to people all the time who are speaking on their phones.”

The California Office of Traffic Safety has also acknowledged increases in distracted driving, which in April became the focus of a month-long crackdown.

Some grant funding will also be used to pay for a traffic data collector, which will observe and analyze traffic patterns, according to a city report.

The grant will mostly fund 37 police enforcement operations and 10 task force efforts that will focus on distributing educational materials to residents and business owners citywide.

Of the 37 police operations, 17 will concentrate on speed and 18 will be aimed at distracted driving. Motorcyclists will be the focus of two other operations.

Police used last year’s traffic safety grant to stage two badly wrecked vehicles on Glenoaks Boulevard and Verdugo Road with traffic safety messages and to purchase two large electronic message signs.

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