Richmond district cops ring up phone citations 

You should hang up your phone if you are driving through the Richmond district.

As residents call for safer streets, police in the northwestern portion of The City are leading the pack in making arrests for drunken driving and driving while talking on a cell phone.

So far in 2010, police in the district have made arrests or handed out citations in 42 drunken driving incidents, about 20 percent of The City’s 10-district total.

Richmond officers also have given out hundreds of tickets this year to chatty motorists, more than anywhere else in The City, according to police station Capt. Richard Corriea. Already in 2010, Richmond police have given out 282 tickets for talking while driving, compared to 1,388 citywide.

Traffic concerns in the Richmond center mostly around thoroughfares such as Park Presidio Boulevard, Geary Boulevard and Fulton Street, where the stretch between 10th and 25th avenues is the most dangerous, Corriea said.

In 2008, there were four fatal accidents involving vehicles in the district and there were two fatalities in 2009.

"No one likes to get a ticket," Corriea said. "But I wish I understood why people take such risks to get somewhere 30 seconds faster."

And the efforts don’t stop at vehicle infractions. Corriea said police will warn or cite bicyclists who don’t follow traffic laws.

And while you’re at the Outside Lands festival, be sure to make a complete stop. The Taraval Police Station, which covers the Sunset district, has the record for the most stop-sign infractions, with about 500 already in 2010, according to Capt. Denise Schmitt. Also, the station is known for its regular pedestrian stings, in which a plainclothes officer walks out into a crosswalk to see if motorists stop.

Pedestrian advocate Manish Champsee of Walk San Francisco said the efforts of police to improve traffic conditions are important in places such as the Richmond and the Sunset.

"With regards to cell phone usage, research has shown that when you’re talking on your cell phone, the loss of concentration is equivalent to drinking and driving," Champsee said.


Police statistics

Citations for talking on a cell while driving, 2010:

282: Richmond station

1,388: Citywide

Drunken driving arrests and citations, 2010:

42: Richmond station

209: Citywide

Source: SFPD

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