Santa Rosa Police Officer Jeff Adams waited on his motorcycle, tucked in an out-of-the-way spot, as he watched traffic go by at Santa Rosa Avenue and Third Street.
The intersection this week is getting extra attention from the city’s motorcycle officers because it’s one of a couple of dozen intersections that last year were rated as the most dangerous because they had the most accidents. Santa Rosa at Third was tied for seventh worst with nine collisions.
For Adams, he had just ridden back to his stakeout post after chasing down and ticketing a driver who had been on his cell phone but wasn’t hands free. Amazingly, it was the driver’s second cell-phone ticket in less than two hours from a Santa Rosa officer.
“Sometimes people don’t learn,” Adams said. But he said the driver conceded he was “a little embarrassed.”
The fine for a first cell-phone violation is $160 in Sonoma County, after you include all of the extra county and state fees. It jumps to $280 for subsequent violations, according to local court officials. It was an expensive day for that driver.
Cell-phone violations are just one of many that the motorcycle officers look for when they monitor the dangerous intersections — a different one each week — as part of a special enforcement program that Adams coordinates. Other common violations are speeding, running red lights or lane violations.
Adams said many drivers don’t understand that “you have to be completely hands free” when using your cell phone while driving. Some drivers — unsuccessfully — try to get out of a ticket by explaining they were holding the phone but were using the speaker instead of holding it to their ear.
Adams said a favorite technique of drivers who spot a cop while holding their cell phone is to suddenly pretend to be shaving with it — “last week I swear I saw a woman doing it.”
As he talked, another motorcycle officer, Steve Dineen, with Adams suddenly roared off after a car — another cell phone ticket.
Adams said Santa Rosa at Third “makes me nervous,” noting “my partner and I almost got killed” there while riding through on duty. A car turning left cut in front of them and then almost drove into Adams, he said.
And before Adams could finish his next sentence, he brought his bike to life, yelled “I’ll be back” and took off down the sidewalk, off the curb and west down Third Street as he chased down yet another cell-phone violator.
To see the list of Santa Rosa’s most dangerous intersections, CLICK HERE.