RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Dangerous driving is becoming more common in Richmond, sometimes ending in tragedy. That’s why the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Police Department wants to crack down on these types of behaviors.
VCU Police launched multiple, targeted enforcement initiatives this week. It’s part of the department’s campaign promoting pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety.
The announcement of the campaign followed the the death of VCU student Mahrokh Khan, who was hit by a car and killed at the intersection of West Main Street and North Laurel Street in January of 2023.
VCU Police increased patrols on campus Wednesday morning, targeting illegally parked cars, as well as drivers who were speeding, disregarding traffic signs and failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. By 9 a.m., officers had already pulled over three drivers.
Two people were ticketed for disregarding signs, and another one received a speeding ticket. The department said officers on the Monroe Park Campus issued 30 tickets and 2 warnings to drivers during the enforcement period Wednesday.
Lieutenant Edgar Greer, who took part in the traffic enforcement, said the campaign has been successful so far.
“It’s effective because what it does is it gives people the impression that someone’s actually out here enforcing the law,” he said. “It’s like a three-pronged angle that we attack this from. It’s not just the enforcement part, but it’s the education and awareness piece that we’re driving to get the message out to the people.”
Greer and his partner parked at the corner of North Harrison and West Grace Streets Wednesday morning. He said this intersection is usually busy with students going to class.
At the traffic light, there’s a sign prohibiting drivers from turning left during certain times.
After pulling over two drivers and giving them a citation for not adhering to the sign, Greer said he thinks drivers ignore it because the street is heavily traveled and has significant traffic-backup.
“For him (the driver), he’s going to class and it’s so much easier for him to make that left turn and park right there than it is to follow the law and keep everyone safe,” he said. “They don’t see the damage that could happen until it happens, you know what I mean? Because they get away with it so many times.”
Greer and his partner also pulled over a man who was speeding near West Main and North Laurel Streets. He was driving 43 miles per hour in a 25 mile-per-hour zone.
“It causes them to slow down and that’s the key. It’s not necessarily that we want to see anyone get a ticket. We just want everyone to slow down,” Greer said.
The VCU Police Department said the statistics for the campaign completed for Feb. 1-17 are:
-230 traffic citations, 128 parking tickets and 49 warnings
-6 misdemeanor arrests and 2 felony arrests
-Officers have spoken with 2,393 community members at locations including crosswalks, bus stops, residence halls and parking decks, etc.
Greer said the goal is to continue educating people about what it means to travel safely.
“This is a shared responsibility. Safety is a number one concern when using the roadways in Virginia. It just brings awareness to eliminate, we use the word minimize, but the real key is to eliminate serious injuries and/or deaths,” he said.
The department plans to continue these target enforcement initiatives throughout the semester.
VCU PD shared these additional tips for drivers:
-Buckle up and drive sober.
-Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, including at unmarked intersections.
-When passing cyclists, give at least three feet of passing space and drive at a safe speed.
-Obey posted speed limits.
-Follow traffic signs and signals.
-Use hands-free technology to talk on the phone while driving. Alternatively, consider using a “do not disturb” setting.
-Listen to music or audio without using earbuds or headphones.
-Always be aware of your surroundings.
Tips for cyclists and pedestrians can be found here.