I am Officer Ted Ruiz, a traffic enforcement officer with the Woodland Police Department. In 2007 the Woodland Police Department received a traffic safety grant from the State Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). The money provided in the grant is being used to fund one additional traffic enforcement officer, increased DUI enforcement, and education for the public about issues related to driver safety.
The Woodland Police Department Traffic Division is currently staffed with one Sergeant, one DUI enforcement officer, two parking enforcement officers, and three motorcycle officers. The purpose of the Traffic Division is to prevent loss of life, reduce injuries, reduce property damage, investigate major traffic collisions, educate the public regarding rules of the road in venues such as this, identify and correct traffic related issues, plan and facilitate the arrival and departure of traffic during large community functions such as the Independence Day events and the Christmas Parade, and facilitate the safe and efficient movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic throughout the City. The two main ways to improve safety on the roads are education and enforcement.
The Woodland Police Department’s mission is “We are committed to providing the highest quality law enforcement services to our community.” Two ways that we accomplish this mission are communication and continuing education. To that end this column is aimed at being an educational tool to open the lines of communication between the community and Woodland Police Department. Along with this column, which will appear in the Daily Democrat every three weeks, there is also a link to an online traffic blog on the Woodland Police Department website. I will be maintaining the blog daily and you will be able to communicate with traffic officers, leave feedback, ask questions or simply stay updated on traffic related issues. http://www.thetrafficstop.blogspot.com/
The Woodland Police Department website also has an online reporting page where you can report traffic concerns. The concerns will be given to the traffic enforcement officers and, if appropriate, the traffic engineers in an effort to alleviate any reported traffic problems. You can reach us at www.woodlandpolice.org
In this weeks column I will discuss stop signs. The California Vehicle Code section states:
22450. (a) The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. If there is no limit line or crosswalk, the driver shall stop at the entrance to the intersecting roadway.
What the section describes is the requirement to stop at a stop sign. The section does not give a time requirement of how long you should stop but only that a vehicle come to a complete stop at the limit line, crosswalk, or prior to entering the intersection if no roadway markings are present.
One of the things I often hear people say after I have stopped them for not stopping at a stop sign is, “I drive this road every day. I always stop.” What happens is people get in a routine of traveling a certain path every day and go into autopilot due to their familiarity with the road. I believe driving on auto pilot is what causes people to slow to five or ten miles per hour and roll past a stop sign. It’s similar to performing common tasks without thinking about what we are doing.
It is also not uncommon for me to be sitting near an intersection and see someone fail to stop at a stop sign, travel through the intersection, and never look left or right to see if any other traffic was approaching. We need to be aware of these things while we are driving as they can lead to traffic collisions and pedestrians and bicyclists being struck.
I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to read this article and I hope it makes you think about your surroundings while you are driving. Feel free to visit the blog, ask questions, and give your thoughts. California has not had a day without a traffic fatality since September 12, 2000, so please drive safely.