On Aug. 29 the city announced on their Facebook page that the Healdsburg Police Department will be conducting additional traffic enforcement this month in certain areas of town after receiving requests and community concern about traffic violations.
Police officers will focus on the area of Dry Creek Road and the 100 block of Healdsburg Avenue.
While monitoring traffic officers will be looking for red-light violations, seat-belt violations, cell phone violations and speeding.
According to Healdsburg police/traffic officer Frank Patane, the fastest speed recorded on the 100 block of Healdsburg Avenue was 51 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone.
“It’s super scary, it is only a matter of time,” Patane said referring to traffic accidents. “It has happened already this year where a car rear-ended a big semi that was backing out of a parking lot. All the airbags deployed in the car but thankfully no one was injured, but it is scary. People see the freeway and just go for it and go at a really high rate of speed and that’s not what we want, we want you to maintain that 30 mph. Prior to that it is not 65 and people really need to understand that.”
Patane said so far this year the department has conducted 2,200 traffic stops and while drivers have received warnings, he said they will be doing more citations.
“We do traffic enforcement all the time but specific focus areas generally come about when we get citizen complaints or when we’re driving and we see and abnormal number of vehicle violations in a specific area or if we have an increase in traffic collisions,” Patane said. “There’s two areas we’re really focusing on in September that’s the 100 block of Healdsburg Avenue, which is south of the roundabout and Dry Creek Road at Grove Street.”
He said with the Healdsburg Avenue area, residents were complaining of vehicles speeding and people not understanding how to yield to pedestrians.
While Healdsburg resident Charlotte Mandrier has seen drivers failing to yield to pedestrians and vehicles in the roundabout, she’s seen worse roundabout behavior.
“At the roundabout I regularly see individuals who fail to yield to the drivers already in the intersection. I’ve witnessed one driver take a left (wrong way) from Vine Street over to Healdsburg Avenue via the roundabout, and my personal favorite — I witnessed a driver miss their exit in the roundabout, stop, reverse backwards around the roundabout, and then make the exit rather than simply proceed around one more time.”
Several residents also commented on the city's social media post about the traffic announcement, noting that people do not know how to stop for pedestrians.
“The roundabout is new but it is not that new. So people should already know how to handle the roundabout but for some reason not everyone is understanding it. And so we are out their trying to figure out why,” Patane said. “A lot of times we’ll pull over a vehicle that fails to yield inside the roundabout and try to figure out what they’re thinking, what went through their brain and if they’re not familiar with it or need to get educated on it.”
Patane explained when you are inside the roundabout, you have the right of way.
“You can go in that circle as many times as you want, but if you are trying to enter the roundabout, you need to yield to the vehicles inside the roundabout,” he said.
He said it is also important to pay attention to pedestrians while in the roundabout with the crosswalks at the entrances and exits of the circle.
If you are a pedestrian trying to cross, you should make eye contact with the driver in the vehicle in order to make sure they see you.
“You also have to show the initiative that you are going to cross so they know that you are trying to cross,” he said.
Still mystified about proper roundabout etiquette?
Take a look at the passage on roundabouts in the California Drivers Handbook from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Dry Creek Road area
Speeding and distracted driving are also concerns near the Dry Creek Road and Grove Street area.
“That particular area is really interesting because towards the end of the day when the sun is setting in the west, the sun actually hits drivers who are heading west towards the freeway. So we’ve seen an increase in vehicles getting rear-ended and that kind of brought our attention to that area.” Patane said. “While we’re monitoring that area we’re also seeing a lot of people on their cell phones, a lot of people running red lights, vehicles speeding through the intersection to make the yellow light, people without seat-belts and all sorts of vehicle violations.”
Patrol and safety
All officers from the chief down will be working on patrolling the focus areas.
Patane said the department hopes to look at a different problem area in town each month in order to ramp up enforcement.
When asked what drivers can do to help maintain safer city streets, Patane said focusing on what’s in front of you and putting your phone down is important.
“Healdsburg is a really safe city to live in and one of the ways we can help keep it safe is traffic enforcement and educating the public on what’s right, what’s wrong and making sure they are aware of their actions, what are the speed limits. And in terms of being safe, just put the phone down, seat-belt on, focus on what’s in front of you and what’s around you,” he said.