Why traffic enforcement matters (and how to reduce the need)

As was evidenced again in the discussion after the 35th/Juneau crash the other day (original coverage here, followup here; today’s update here), there are many things that could be done to make our roads safer. But there’s no arguing that some of the responsibility lies with all of us as drivers. To that point, Lt. Steve Paulsen at the Southwest Precinct wanted to share these thoughts (and some info):

I regularly receive a varying mix of opinions from our community in regard to value of traffic enforcement and its overall importance to public safety/saving lives.

In the last week since school has started, I have noticed an increase in traffic collisions. Most are due to speed or just not paying attention to driving, i.e. … cellphones, GPS navigation screens, DVD players, reading the paper, putting on makeup, shaving, eating…

I attend a number of community meetings from every part of our fine West Seattle community. The single most common complaint the Seattle Police Department receives from each neighborhood is traffic-related. We are fortunate to have regular assistance in West Seattle from our Traffic Section, who have City-wide responsibility in patrolling our neighborhoods to ensure traffic and pedestrian safety.

I realize that our citizens are very busy and with the advent of technology, they have become increasingly distracted while driving.

To my fellow West Seattle folks….Please slow down and pay attention when you are driving. School has started, we have children walking around…We have more people riding bicycles and motorcycles, which as you know are difficult to see at times. Anticipate each intersection, whether controlled or not, as a potential accident location…Keep an eye out for pedestrians and joggers who may be hooked into their iPods and not paying attention to traffic…

Here are a few of our regularly enforced areas … No surprises here! We would much rather have you slow down than to have to write the citations.

All School zones during school hours
West Seattle Freeway
Admiral Way
35th Ave SW
Fauntleroy SW
16th Ave SW
Highland Park Dr
Delridge SW
1st Ave S near the bridge
SW Roxbury

Thanks again, please be safe out there and watch out for each other!


Lieutenant Steven Paulsen
Seattle Police
SW Precinct

P.S. We originally drafted this early today, before hearing from Denise Sharify re: the 35th/Juneau accident survivor (as we reported this afternoon, she’s out of the hospital). Denise is hoping to work with the High Point Neighborhood Association to revive the High Point-specific Pedestrian Safety Committee that worked on many issues in recent months, some of which have been addressed with city responses such as the new 35th/Raymond light upgrade and the 34th/Morgan crosswalk.

7 Replies to "Why traffic enforcement matters (and how to reduce the need)"

  • GatewoodGuy September 6, 2008 (10:56 pm)

    Just an FYI, it’s the West Seattle Bridge not Freeway. If it were a Freeway, Seattle Police would not have jurisdiction, County Sheriff would.

    Just an observation….

  • WSB September 6, 2008 (11:10 pm)

    Actually the “West Seattle Freeway” was the longtime name for the stretch between 99 and 5 that formally is the Spokane Street Viaduct, but is also now considered part of the West Seattle Bridge. Even if it were still known as the “West Seattle Freeway,” that wouldn’t affect jurisdiction – the fact is (as we were reminded during a recent briefing on the upcoming Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project), it’s an elevated city street. The Viaduct, meantime, is a state highway.

  • JimmyG September 7, 2008 (7:58 am)

    Even when it was still officially called the West Seattle Freeway it was the jurisdiction of Seattle Police. The name of a road has no correlation to which agency has “jurisdiction”.

    Besides, any Washington state law enforcement officer can write any traffic infraction on any public roadway, it’s called mutual aid.

    I remember when they changed the name from freeway to bridge. It was all part of an effort to get people to slow down and not think of it as a freeway.

  • WSB September 7, 2008 (9:18 am)

    Thanks for the “mutual aid” note, I thought that was so but hate to post things of which I am not 99.9% sure. Though the Alaskan Way Viaduct is technically a state highway, for example, you see SPD on it much more often than State Patrol …

  • J September 7, 2008 (10:25 am)

    I love you, Lt. Steve!

  • Christopher Bell September 7, 2008 (10:47 am)

    Lt. Paulson,

    Traffic law enforcement must go beyond the arterial streets. My neighbors and I have been trying for years to get the Seattle Police to enforce the speed limit on our street, SW Brandon. We have a constant problem with Papa Johns Pizza delivery drivers using our street as a short cut to Fauntlaroy. The drivers routinely speed on our street. I was even able to clock their speeds using a borrowed radar gun. One driver was going over 35 mph! Calls to Papa Johns have netted no result. Calls to the SPD are always met with the same response: “we can’t do anything about it”.

    We had two traffic circles installed last year on our street. We had hopped that this would slow folks down. The result… the drivers speed around the circles, without looking. The circles may have created a more dangerous situation.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll get any action from Papa Johns or SPD until someone is hit or killed.

  • enforcement nulu September 8, 2008 (10:21 am)

    Lt. Paulson can load the platitudes but to no avail. The majority of the people reading them (WSBloggers) are with him. But simple requests while preaching to the choir have little effect on lawbreakers. Hence the citation-fine-suspension system. Unfortunately, watch for the SPD “talking points”, the “lack of resources” references. This is code speak for lack of enforcement. Enforcement would have a tremendous pay back with safer streets and a healthier happier community.
    Also, how about a refresher on right of way rules at residential intersections and residential speed limits?

Sorry, comment time is over.