Mike Koozmin/SF ExaminerSFPD says a focus on targeting violent crime means less time spent writing citations.

Traffic enforcement down, SFPD vows increase

At an annual hearing to update the Board of Supervisors on the traffic-safety effort known as Vision Zero, police said placing an emphasis on tackling violent crime makes it difficult to enforce traffic safety.

Cmdr. Ann Mannix, head of the Police Department’s San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Division, explained violent crime enforcement was partly responsible for the police’s declining traffic citation numbers on Monday.

The SFPD has a stated goal to increase traffic citations, especially around what it calls the Focus on Five of the most dangerous driving behaviors: speeding, red-light running, failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, failing to yield while making a left or U-turn and failing to fully stop at stop signs.

Those Focus on Five citations are down six percent from the same time last year, from 8,441 citations in 2014 to 7,962 citations in 2015. Traffic citations as a whole were down 2 percent from the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015.

These goals are part of Vision Zero, a policy statement by San Francisco government to end traffic deaths in The City by 2024.

“Traffic collisions aren’t accidents or acts of God,” and are preventable, Supervisor Jane Kim said at the meeting. She sponsored Vision Zero.

The SFPD’s goal is to increase Focus on Five citations to become 50 percent of total traffic citations.

Mannix said to Kim: “Will we be at 50 percent? I don’t think so, Richmond [station] will be at 50 percent. [Richmond Station Capt. Simon] Silverman has the luxury of officers to write citations … not every station has that luxury.”

Station captains in other parts of The City struggle with homicides and violent crime, she said. In an email to The San Francisco Examiner, Mannix noted The City’s violent crime is up 18 percent this year.

Mannix told The Examiner she anticipates traffic citations will rise soon. Other challenges plagued citation numbers, she said. The Southern station recently changed captains several times, and visiting dignitaries also tied up resources. Not all of the SFPD’s traffic statistics were dismal. Speeding citations were up 11 percent since last year, and fatal traffic injuries are down from nine to four in the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, according to the SFPD. One pedestrian, one cyclist, and two motorcyclists have died in San Francisco this year.

The day after the meeting, 12-year-old Andrew Wu was struck and killed by a Muni train, adding one pedestrian fatality to those statistics.

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