Monday’s City Council agenda includes an amendment to the Mesa City Code “to clarify that pedestrian civil traffic violators are required to provide full name, date of birth and signature to a citing officer …
“The Mesa Police Department will be implementing an anti-jaywalking campaign to decrease pedestrian deaths which have been on the rise; in 2020, there were 15 pedestrian fatalities.”
Mesa Police Department Sgt. Greg Loewenhagen said the campaign started in 2017, when vehicle collisions killed 15 pedestrians, Most victims had been jaywalking.
That was up from five pedestrian deaths in 2015 and 10 in 2016. Though pedestrian deaths in Mesa fell to nine in 2018 and seven in 2019, they spiked again last year, when vehicles killed 15 pedestrians.
“The one thing I’d love for the public to know is we don’t enforce these laws to be punitive. Our ultimate goal is to stop people from dying,” Loewenhagen said. “We’re just trying to save lives.”
He noted the great majority of pedestrian deaths involving jaywalking – someone crossing against a light, and/or without the protection of a crosswalk.
Several years ago, when police launched the jaywalking enforcement campaign, “It garnered some negative publicity,” Loewenhagen said. “There were people saying we were being too aggressive in enforcement. What they don’t understand is it’s to keep people from dying.”
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, “In 2019, the number of U.S. pedestrian deaths declined about 1 increase compared to 2018. This small but welcome decline followed an unprecedented 55 percent increase in pedestrian deaths from 2009 to 2018.”
Around the country, pedestrian deaths in 2020 did not decrease, “despite large reductions in motor vehicle travel associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the GHSA.