Quincy Police say they have stepped up enforcement with pedestrian issues in the last few months, a tactic that seems to have helped reduce pedestrian accidents this year.
According to police Captain John Dougan, officers are conducting more crosswalk stings, in which plainclothes officers attempt to cross an intersection at a crosswalk and see if cars will stop.
Furthermore, streets that saw repeated problems with motorists and pedestrians in 2012 are receiving special attention, with officers visible and on site to encourage caution and compliance with the law.
“It’s been a step up in enforcement,” Dougan said. “We’ve been doing the crosswalks and [patrolling] certain areas where there has been accidents. We’ve increased visibility, increased enforcement, as well as are educating the public.”
In the first two months of the year, pedestrian accidents have declined from last year.
This year, 15 people have been involved in accidents through Feb. 26, compared with 17 in January 2012 alone, Dougan said.
The decline follows a harrowing year for pedestrians in the city, who were hit 98 times – a record breaking number – in 2012. In 2010, 49 pedestrians were hit, followed by a jump to 71 in 2011.
The number of increased citations may have something to do with it. After a particularly bad spate of accidents in early 2011, Quincy Police started conducting more stings throughout the city.
Citations increased dramatically, going from 136 in 2010, to 170 in 2011, to 776 in 2012.
This year's decline could have also been caused by a colder, snowier winter that discourages walking, but regardless of the reasons, mayoral Spokesperson Christopher Walker just hopes it continues.
“We’re hopeful going forward that a combination of the city’s efforts and in large part just the additional outreach that has gone on regarding these issues is having an effect of people both driving and walking,” Walker said. “But it’s probably too early to make any statistical conclusions at this point.”
The city will continue conducting pedestrian stings throughout the city and has already started planning for Public Safety Week, which will take place in the spring when pedestrians are more likely to be out and about.
In the end, encouraging pedestrians and motorists to take their fate into their own hands is the best thing the city can do to make an impact, Walker said.
“I do think the message is out there and folks are hopefully being more careful, whether they are in their cars or walking,” Walker said. “In the end, that’s really what’s going to bring the numbers down. It will take the operators and pedestrians really keeping their awareness up for their own safety.”