Police

National Night Out helps build stronger neighborhoods

Sgt. Roy Shelton, CSPD Community Enhancement Unit

The best thing about National Night Out is just seeing neighbors having open discussions about the things that affect their neighborhoods – and what they can do to make those neighborhoods better. As a witness to many National Night Out celebrations through the years, I can attest to the collaborative spirit these events produce.

The cities of College Station and Bryan will observe the 35th National Night Out on Tuesday, Oct. 2, with numerous block parties and celebrations designed to bring residents and local law enforcement together. College Station police officers will answer questions and provide insight and information about crime prevention and ways to build safer neighborhoods. Residents will also likely cross paths with the mayor, city council members, and city managers.

In College Station, at least 40 neighborhoods participate each year, forging strong relationships and discovering the power of unified neighborhoods. With National Night Out as a starting point, neighbors begin talking more frequently about concerns and issues and work together to resolve those problems.

These neighborhood groups often evolve into an active neighborhood organization that develops a real sense of community.

I hope the synergy created by National Night Out continues to inspire our neighborhoods to get and remain organized, and to stay active long after the celebration is over.

For more information, call 979-764-6234 or email rshelton@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Sgt. Roy Shelton is in his 17th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

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Pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility

By Lt. Craig Anderson, College Station Police Department

As College Station’s streets have become increasingly congested, accidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles have resulted in scores of injuries and several tragic fatalities. It’s a scene becoming all-too-familiar, not just here, but across the country.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian fatalities have surged by 46 percent since 2009. While other types of traffic fatalities declined, the national pedestrian death toll spiked to almost 6,000 in both 2016 and 2017 — the highest levels in more than a quarter-century. Our state suffered the third most pedestrian deaths in the nation last year.

In College Station, the number of vehicle accidents involving pedestrians has more than tripled since 2010, when we only had 14. From 2010-2013, we averaged about 19 pedestrian accidents per year, but from 2014-17 that average skyrocketed to almost 35. We’ve already had 21 such accidents in 2018, as well as our ninth pedestrian fatality since 2010.

From 2010-17, College Station had 232 vehicle crashes with pedestrians. Although only 17 occurred on the Texas A&M campus, the vast majority happened on nearby city streets.

Nationally, more than 75 percent of pedestrian accidents happen at night, with most occurring on city streets and frontage roads. Only about 18 percent happen at intersections, which means people are trying to cross busy streets at other points without using designated crosswalks.

The pedestrian-related accidents we see in College Station are typically caused by failure to yield, distractions, speeding, population growth, and alcohol and drugs.

1. Failure to Yield

The most common cause of pedestrian accidents in College Station is a failure to yield by either the motorist or the pedestrian. On the A&M campus, vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at all times. Off-campus, vehicles must yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or one close enough to the road to be in danger.

Cars or trucks emerging from an alley, building, private road, or driveway must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians approaching on a sidewalk.

Pedestrians have a responsibility, too. They can’t suddenly leave the curb and enter a crosswalk in the path of a moving vehicle that’s unable to yield. Pedestrians must also yield the right-of-way when crossing outside of a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

At an intersection with a traffic control device, pedestrians may only cross between two adjacent intersections in a marked crosswalk and may only cross an intersection diagonally if authorized by a control device.

2. Population Growth

College Station has added about 25,000 residents since 2010. That means we have thousands more cars – and pedestrians — on our roadways. The rapid growth is expected to continue.

3. Distractions

Distracted driving is a well-documented problem, but distracted walking can be just as hazardous. The likely source of these distractions? Smartphones, of course. The number of smartphone users in the United States skyrocketed from about 62.6 million in 2010 to an estimated 237.6 million this year.

We see an increasing number of oblivious pedestrians with their eyes glued to their cell phones, some multiplying the danger by using headphones or earbuds. These types of distractions may be the most significant factor behind the recent rise in pedestrian accidents.

4. Alcohol and Drugs

The impact of alcohol and illicit drugs can never be underestimated. Alcohol and drugs impair judgment, decision-making, and reaction time. Most people recognize that it’s dangerous to drink and drive, but walking while drunk can be equally risky. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that a third of pedestrian fatalities involve a walker whose blood alcohol level exceeds the legal driving limit.

5. Speeding

A recent study by the American Automobile Association showed the risk of pedestrians being involved in a crash climbs substantially when vehicle speed rises by even a small amount. About half of pedestrians die when the vehicle is going 42 mph, three-quarters perish when the car or truck is traveling 50 mph, and 90 percent die when vehicles reach 58 mph.

Now that we have a good understanding of what can cause pedestrian accidents, how do we prevent them? Here are some excellent tips for pedestrians and drivers alike, courtesy of the NHTSA:


PEDESTRIANS


  • Be predictable.
  • Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  • Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • Look for cars in all directions – including those turning left or right.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
  • Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
  • Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and judgment.

DRIVERS


  • Look out for pedestrians everywhere at all times.
  • Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop, too.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street.
  • Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present.
  • Be extra cautious when backing up – pedestrians can move into your path.

Pedestrian safety is a responsibility shared by drivers and walkers. By making good decisions and paying attention, we can significantly reduce the number of pedestrian accidents on our streets.

 


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 31st year with the College Station Police Department. Before becoming a police officer, Craig served four years in the U.S. Navy. 


 

 

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Drunk driving myths, precautions, and red flags

This post is the sixth and final one in a series about keeping your family and possessions safe this holiday season.

By Lt. Craig Anderson, CSPD Public Information Officer

Fatal road accidents tend to hit their annual peak between midnight and 5 a.m. on New Year’s Day. What a potentially horrific way to bring in a new year.

The most troubling thing is that we could avoid many of these accidents if motorists – and those around them – recognized the red flags and took preventive action.

Persistent Myths

Stubborn myths about alcohol and its effect on the body contribute significantly to the problem. Let’s start by dispelling three of those dangerous misconceptions:

MYTH 1: If you’ve had too much to drink, coffee will sober you up.

Fact: Only time can make you sober again. It takes your body about two hours to break down the alcohol after consuming one pint of beer. It takes about one hour to break down a small, five-ounce glass of wine.

MYTH 2: Hard liquor is more intoxicating than beer or wine.

Fact: A 12-ounce can of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, and a 12-ounce wine cooler contain the same amount of alcohol and the same intoxication potential as 1½ ounces of hard liquor.

MYTH 3: Someone who has drunk too much looks intoxicated.

Fact: A person’s physical appearance can be misleading. A single drink can impair someone’s ability to drive. When someone drinks, the first thing affected is their judgment. Important motor skills are next.

Hosting a party?

If you plan to host a New Year’s Eve party, we recommend taking some common-sense steps to curb excessive drinking and to help your designated drivers stay sober.

Drinking isn’t mandatory for having a good time, so don’t force alcohol on your guests. Offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers and others who prefer not to consume alcohol. Carbonation encourages the bloodstream to absorb alcohol faster, so use non-carbonated bases such as fruit juice for alcohol-laced punches.

It’s also a good idea to avoid serving too many salty snacks, which tend to make people thirsty and want to drink more.

Before your party begins, ask your guests to appoint one or more designated drivers, who should agree to drink only non-alcoholic beverages. If certain guests are known to drink in excess, inform them that drinking and driving are unacceptable at your party.

Don’t let guests mix their drinks. Choosing a reliable bartender will help you keep track of the size and number of drinks your guests consume. Don’t allow anyone under the legal drinking age to consume or serve alcohol, either.

About 90 minutes before your party is scheduled to end, close the bar and serve dessert treats with coffee. But remember: time alone sobers up those who have been drinking.

Drunk driver warning signs

If you witness any of these driver behaviors, note the license plate number and vehicle description and report it to the proper authorities. DO NOT attempt to stop the driver on your own:

  • Wide turns.
  • Straddling lanes or driving on the centerline.
  • Drifting or moving in a straight line at a slight angle to the roadway.
  • Driving with the headlights off at night.
  • The driver shows signs of being drunk such as eye fixation or face close to the windshield.
  • You see a driver drinking.
  • Driving below the speed limit, erratic braking, or stopping without cause.
  • A slow response to traffic signals, including sudden stops or delayed starts.
  • Nearly striking objects or curbs.
  • Weaving or zigzagging across the road.
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road or completely off the roadway.
  • Rapid acceleration or deceleration.

The College Station Police Department will be actively enforcing alcohol-related offenses throughout the holiday season and especially on New Year’s Eve.

We wish you a safe and happy new year!


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 30th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

 

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Holiday Safety:  Watch out for pets in your merry festivities

This post is the fifth in a series about keeping your family and possessions safe this holiday season.

By Lt. Craig Anderson, CSPD Public Information Officer

A lot of people consider their pets to be valued members of their families. It’s especially important to treat them that way during the holidays.

Many of the fun and beautiful things we enjoy about Christmas can create hazards for your pets. The College Station Police Department’s Animal Control Division offers these basic tips to keep your beloved pet safe and sound amid all the joy and fun:

Holiday hazards

Hang breakables, tinsel, and other tempting decorations well out of paw’s reach. Tinsel, ribbon, and ornaments are especially dangerous to pets if chewed or swallowed, and electrical cords are even worse. Gnawing pets often try to chew the cords, which could lead to severe injuries or even death. Make sure your light strand, loose wires, and extension cords are out of reach.

It’s also wise to place your decorative holiday plants and candles clear of your pet’s reach. Some seasonal plants – such as mistletoe, holly berries, and poinsettias – are poisonous, and pets and candles just don’t mix. You should also keep your pets away from holiday treats, especially chocolate. Theobromine and caffeine, ingredients found in chocolate, are toxins and can be fatal to some animals.

Christmas trees

A Christmas tree should stand on a flat, broad base. You may also consider anchoring the tree with fishing line tied to a ceiling or wall hook since curious cats often see trees as climbing posts. Needles from both live and artificial trees are indigestible and can cause illness. Don’t tempt your pet with edible ornaments, either.

If you have a live tree, be aware that water from the tree base can cause mouth sores, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Be sure to cover the bottom tightly with skirting to restrict access.

Provide a haven

If you plan to entertain family or friends, provide a haven where your pets can retreat when they get overly excited or could possibly escape. Encourage your guest to leave your pets alone when in their sanctuary.

When you travel

If you are going away and your pet is staying home, make arrangements for their care, check that they have proper identification, and make sure their enclosures are secure. Contact a reputable pet sitter or find a high-quality kennel that provides a safe, sanitary environment and has a qualified, caring staff.

If your pet travels with you, identify accommodations that allow pets by contacting the tourism agency at your destination. If traveling by car, provide frequent rest and water stops and bring proof of vaccinations. Always have current identification on your pet’s collar with an alternate phone number.

The College Station Police Department wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season.

 


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 30th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

 

Photo Copyright: dikushin / 123RF Stock Photo

 

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Holiday Safety: Don’t let would-be grinches spoil your travels 

This post is the fourth in a series about keeping your family and possessions safe this holiday season.

By Lt. Craig Anderson, CSPD Public Information Officer

When preparing for holiday travel, some folks make detailed to-do lists so they won’t leave anything important behind.

Gifts? Check.

Christmas cookies? Check.

Ugly holiday sweater? Check.

If you plan to celebrate the season away from home, you might consider adding a few other items to that checklist to keep your property safe. Don’t let the would-be grinches lurking in the shadows spoil your Christmas.

Good locks, simple precautions, neighborly alertness, and common sense can prevent most property crimes.

Is anybody there?

Make sure your home has a lived-in look since most burglars want to avoid confrontation. Put a hold on your mail and newspaper deliveries and hide your empty garbage container. An alternative is to ask a trusted neighbor to handle these items for you.

You can also provide that neighbor with a key to your home and have them park their vehicle in your driveway. You can offer to do the same the next time they leave town.

Lights and alarm systems are great investments, and you may want to add a timer to turn on the lights and a radio or TV in the evening. Some modern security systems and timers can be controlled and monitored remotely through your smartphone. Leave your shades and blinds in their normal positions.

If you’re a renter, check with your landlord or management company about their security measures and what precautions you should take in case freezing weather occurs.

Secure your home and valuables

Lock all your windows, doors and outside gates. You might even consider double-locking your windows with inexpensive key locks found at hardware stores. Don’t hide your keys in a mailbox, under a doormat or planter, or anywhere outside.

Double check your garage doors before you leave, and unplug or disarm automatic garage door openers, if possible. If you’re leaving a vehicle in the driveway, don’t leave a garage door opener inside.

Take smaller valuables such as laptop computers or expensive jewelry with you or store them in a safe deposit box. It’s also a good idea to record the serial numbers of your valuables. You may even want to engrave your driver’s license number on the back of your electronics and computers.

Be discrete

Finally, it’s never wise to advertise your travel plans to strangers, especially on Facebook or other social media.

Let’s work together to keep College Station a safe place to live, work and play by taking away opportunities for crime. The College Station Police Department wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season.


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 30th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

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Holiday Safety: Use extreme caution when shopping with kids

This is the second post in a series about keeping your family and possessions safe this holiday season.

 By Lt. Craig Anderson, CSPD Public Information Officer

Stores and malls traditionally see their largest crowds during the holidays when much of the population is out searching for that perfect Christmas present.

It’s easy to lose track of essential items such as cell phones and car keys. But those things pale in comparison to what we hold dearest – our children. It’s easy for you and your kids to be distracted by all the sights, sounds, and crowds of holiday shopping, so make sure they stay with you at all times.

Nothing takes the place of your supervision when you are in a public place with your children.  If you think you might be distracted when shopping, make other arrangements for your children’s care.

If your kids do tag along, keep these practical tips in mind:

Adult Supervision

Supervise your child and always accompany young children to the restroom. Make sure your kids know to stay with you and that they check with you or the adult in charge before going anywhere. Know where your children are and who they’re with at all times.

Never use video arcades, movie theaters, or playgrounds as babysitters, and don’t expect employees in toy or specialty stores to supervise and care for your children.

Getting Separated

Practice safe shopping skills with your children. Teach them how to locate adult sources of help and checking with you before going anywhere in a store or mall.

Talk to your kids about what to do if you become separated. Designate a meeting place such as a store’s sales counter or the mall’s information booth. Teach younger children to look for uniformed security or police officers, salespeople with nametags, or people in information booths. Make sure your kids know never to leave the store or mall or go looking for you in the parking lot.

Older Kids

If you allow your older children to go to the mall or other activities without you, they should always take a friend and check in with you on a regular basis. Be sure to have a clear plan for picking them up — including place and time — and what to do if plans change.

Let’s work together to keep College Station a safe place to live, work and play by taking away opportunities for crime. The College Station Police Department wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season.

 


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 30th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!