Updated 9 p.m. Monday, May 28: Police arrested two and ticketed four people Monday on a citywide traffic safety crackdown aimed at motorcycle safety. Two were arrested on previous felony warrants, one for a traffic warrant in Sacramento and one from Yuba City. One motorcyclist was arrested fro driving on a suspended license and for driving without insurance and other violations were for using a cell phone behind the wheel, according to Sgt. Aaron Johnson.
Rohnert Park police will be out in full force today, as part of a Memorial Day public safety crackdown.
Police are using a $73,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to take aim at people speeding, using phones behind the wheel, drinking and driving and other traffic violations.
In what the department calls an "effort to continue lowering deaths and injuries," officers will be out Monday in areas frequented by motorcycles and where motorcycle crashes occur.
"Officers will be looking for drivers and riders who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and cracking down on traffic violations made by regular vehicle drivers as well as motorcyclists that can lead to motorcycle collisions, injuries and fatalities," authorities said in a statement.
Police said motorcycle fatalities statewide are on the rise. Most recent data collected show that in California, there were 394 fatalities in 2009 and 352 in 2010.
"This is positive trend that we want to see continue," said Sgt. Aaron Johnson, of the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety. "As the weather begins to get warmer, the amount of motorcycles on the road will increase. With the increase of motorcycles on the roadway the likelihood of collisions will rise."
"If we can start the educational efforts early, hopefully we can help prevent injury collisions," he added.
In Rohnert Park over the last five years, two deaths have resulted from motorcycle crashes and 20 injury collisions, according to Johnson.
Police are also reminding all motorists to always be alert and watch out for motorcycles, especially when turning and changing lanes.
"Riders and drivers need to respect each other and share the road,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety.
The beefed up enforcement today is part of a yearlong effort to put more officers out on the streets and use technology such as speed radar to reduce vehicle-related injuries and fatalities citywide.
Johnson pointed to new safety measures the department is making. There's a new speed radar on East Cotati Avenue near Sonoma State University, for example, and police are vying for more funding to conduct focused distracted driving crackdowns.
"What’s tough is that our staffing is lower, but the state has really ramped up the amount of distracted driving campaigns," Johnson said. "They want have a zero tolerance for it and so do we."
"We’re hoing if we take strong enforcement and educations tance we can hopefully lower numbers," he added.
Johnson said pedestrian safety is also something the department needs to focus on, so the department is amping up pedestrian safety patrols.
"We’re trying to educate drivers to slow down approaching a heavily populated area," he said.
For more information on training and motorcycle safety visit the California Motorcyclist Safety Program www.CA-msp.org or call 1-877-743-3411.