Roads get dangerous this time of year as travelers pack in one last vacation before Labor Day and students return to school. As the number of cars climbs, so does the number of traffic accidents, says Petaluma Traffic Sergeant Ken Savano. August and September are two of the top five months for collisions.

That’s why Petaluma police will be out in force during the next two weeks, first as part of a multi-agency DUI crackdown and then, starting  Aug. 20, as part of Petaluma’s Safe Routes to School Plan.

Also next week, Santa Rosa police will move their extra enforcement efforts to a dangerous intersection near Santa Rosa Junior College.

DUI crackdown

Between Friday, Aug. 16, and Labor Day, expect to see officers from 13 Sonoma County agencies aggressively looking for drunk drivers as part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

The DUI Task Force will arrest anyone caught driving drunk, said Petaluma Police Chief Patrick Williams.  Plans are in place for four DUI/drivers license checkpoints, local roving DUI saturation patrols, a DUI warrant/probation sweep and two DUI court stings targeting suspended drivers who were ordered by the judge not to drive.

“Every year, about one third of all motor vehicle traffic deaths involve one or more drunk drivers or motorcycle operators,” Williams said, and long weekends are especially dangerous. “If you do choose to drive impaired, you will be arrested. No warnings. No excuses.”

Chris Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety, said “research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign reduces drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.”

Participating agencies include police departments from Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Windsor, Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College, along with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department, Sonoma County Probation Department, ABC, MADD, the California Highway Patrol and State Parks. The campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Petaluma school patrols 

Starting Tuesday, Aug. 20, Petaluma officers also will maintain a high profile around local schools as children return for the fall semester. Expect to see extra police and community service officers as well as volunteers deployed at Waugh School District schools on Tuesday, and Petaluma City and Old Adobe schools on Wednesday.

“We respectfully ask parents, school faculty and students to walk, ride, drive and park like they are doing the same in their own neighborhoods for the safety of our children in school zones,” said Lt. Tim Lyons of the Petaluma Police Department.

Officers will keep a high profile around school zones to enforce traffic laws, promote bicycle safety and conduct pedestrian stings at school crosswalks with a history of vehicle/pedestrian accidents.

Police will give away bike helmets at the Police Department, 969 Petaluma Blvd. N., to anyone under 18. They also encourage people to report traffic hazards near school zones to the Traffic Team at 776-3775.

Santa Rosa’s dangerous intersection

The week of Aug. 19, Santa Rosa police will be monitoring one of the city’s most collision-prone intersections, Mendocino Avenue at Pacific Avenue, which  last year was tied for third place with 10 collisions.

As part of a weekly Monday through Friday special enforcement program, Officer Jeff Adams says officers particularly will be looking for drivers not wearing seat belts, who are illegally using cellphones, are speeding, running red lights or committing lane violations.

Each week, the officers pick one of the city’s top 25 collision-troubled intersections to monitor.

To read about the city’s other top intersections for collisions, CLICK HERE.



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