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Tempe police department receives grant to help reduce crashes

Posted: 6:00 PM, Nov 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-13 21:06:02-05
Tempe Police

TEMPE — The City of Tempe is home to Arizona State University's main campus. That, of course, means traffic and a lot of it.

There are constantly commuters everywhere - whether it be by car, bike, or two feet.

The Tempe Police Department has been keeping track of the top 10 spots in the city where crashes are happening. Now, they've received funding from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety to have targeted enforcement in those areas, as well as another grant geared toward pedestrian and cyclist safety enforcement.

The Operation Safe Roads team rode-along with Sgt. Steve Carbajal to see how that grant money is being used to try and reduce crash statistics.

"So, that's what we say in Tempe... is that we try to conduct purposeful enforcement," Sgt. Carbajal explained while behind the wheel of his patrol car.

Purposeful, even if some people may call this enforcement petty.

"When we're talking about crossing where you're not supposed to cross or when you're not supposed to cross or crossing the light rail tracks and those kind of things," Sgt. Carbajal described.

But, with more than 20 years on the force, Sgt. Carbajal said he has seen when those decisions truly mean life or death and him having to make that knock on a family member's door.

"When you have those experiences and you've been sitting in people's living rooms and telling them that they're loved ones not going to come home... If you've been in that situation, I think you would view it entirely differently," Sgt. Carbajal said.

The Tempe Police Department has received two grants from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. One is more than $45,000 for Selective Traffic Enforcement. The other is $20,000 for enhancing pedestrian and bicyclist safety enforcement

"So, it's not just focusing on pedestrians... not just focusing on bicycles," Sgt. Carbajal explained. "But, it's really making sure everybody interacts well."

Operation Safe Roads was with Sgt. Carbajal as he stopped a woman for crossing the street without the walk signal.

"So, as you can see our light's green," Sgt. Carbajal said as he initiated his lights and sirens to catch her attention. "Which means the pedestrian signal is not green."

The woman told Sgt. Carbajal she was trying to get to the light rail, but she missed it and got ticketed instead.

"That's what we're trying to do out here today is we're trying to make sure that people stay safe and they don't take chances with their safety," Sgt. Carbajal told her.

ABC15 was also involved with two stops for distracted driving.

Sgt. Carbajal said he was heavily involved in writing Tempe's hands-free ordinance years ago, before it became a statewide law.

He told us one of the first things he will ask a driver after pulling them over for distracted driving is: "What were you looking at on your phone that was so important while you were driving?"

Drivers often say they were checking work emails.

Sgt. Carbajal said, overall, the grants have been helpful in reducing fatalities in the city from traffic incidents.

"When you talk about pedestrian enforcement amongst those that have violated it, it's not very popular as you can imagine," Sgt. Carbajal said. "But, there is a safety reason behind it."

So if people think it is petty, that is okay with him.

Do you have a road issue or question for Operation Safe Roads? You can call the hotline at 833-AZROADS or email roads@abc15.com.