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Suffolk police to focus on pedestrian safety with new program

The patch of the Suffolk County Police Department.

The patch of the Suffolk County Police Department. Photo Credit: NEWSDAY / John Keating

Suffolk County police unveiled a new program Friday that aims to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians.

Pedestrian error was the number one cause for fatal motor vehicle crashes last year in the Suffolk police district, according to a report by Suffolk police.

“We often talk about gang violence and terrorism, but it’s very important that we keep our eye on the ball on some basic issues like roadway safety,” Commissioner Timothy Sini said during a news conference in Lindenhurst Friday.

More than one third of the 43 fatal vehicle crashes in the Suffolk County police district last year involved pedestrians in 2016, he said.

The Pedestrian Safety and Enforcement Program is a statewide program that combines education and increased enforcement to both pedestrians and motorists, police said. Officers will provide pamphlets for pedestrians and motorists with tips on how to avoid crashes and stay vigilant.

“We’re not just looking to write a whole bunch of tickets,” said Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron. “We’re looking to influence people’s behavior and make the roadways safer.”

At an intersection near the news conference, officers gave out summons to drivers who did not stop for a plain-clothed officer crossing the crosswalk, providing an example of the type of enforcement the program will include. Another officer monitored cars for speeding.

A full-time traffic analyst has also been assigned to the Highway Patrol Bureau, who will analyze crashes to discover where the error was made and how to prevent further crashes.

Sini said department efforts reduced motor vehicle fatalities by about 30 percent last year, and so far the number of car crashes and fatalities in 2017 are lower than last year.

“We’re doing a good job, but we can do even better and save even more lives by doing this enforcement program,” he said.

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