Sting operations by traffic cops can be described as a trap whereby the on duty police personnel are dressed as civilians to set up ordinary situations and observe if drivers follow traffic rules. Following this, failure to yield stings involve using cops dressed as civilians to ticket drivers who do not give way to pedestrians at both marked and unmarked crosswalks as required by the California traffic laws. Drivers who are caught failing to yield are issued citations and the publicity surrounding the event is typically used to raise awareness about this particular guideline.
In addition to raising awareness in the community about the issue, stings may also increase revenue for the state police department.
- A sting usually generates a large number of tickets in a very short period of time.
- One such sting that occurred in Orange County, California, in 2012, netted 89 tickets for failure to yield within 3 hours.
California Vehicle Code 21950 and Reality
In California, vehicles are required to yield to pedestrians crossing the road at both marked crosswalks and intersections that are without marked crosswalks. This is spelled out in vehicle code 21950. However, the reality of the situation is that vehicles are dangerous and pedestrians are often understandably unwilling to press the issue even when they are in the legal right. These are some of the situations that failure to yield can create:
- During the OC sting, 3 or more vehicles sometimes failed to yield during the same crossing by a police officer
- Crossing guards describe regularly being ignored as they attempt to help children cross the road safely
- A mother described having to wave her arms to get cars to stop for her son to cross the street to school
Reactions to Stings
Reactions to stings are often fairly polarized.
- Drivers are usually unhappy to be caught and ticketed and some blame the pedestrians, especially at busy intersections without crosswalks or lights.
- Pedestrians are often keenly aware of the dangers of trying to cross a street and are happy to have some enforcement come to their neighborhood.
Stings and Revenue
By some measurements, stings may be considered as an effective means to educate drivers and make the pedestrians aware of their rights on the road.
- Drivers are definitely caught violating the law and are cited appropriately. However, there are questions as to whether stings are as effective at bringing in revenue and educating drivers as they seem.
- Each ticket for failure to yield in Santa Ana was only $39 at the time of the 2012 sting operation. Although the motorist will eventually pay $230 with fees and penalties, only a small portion of this goes to the police department.
- Depending on how many officers are working a sting, the revenue generated may be minimal.
Stings and Pedestrian Safety
While the value of stings in terms of revenue may be uncertain, they appear to work where pedestrian safety is considered– if some major caveats are included.
- A 2004 Miami Beach program that lasted two weeks seemed to reduce rates of driver violation, but two weeks is a lot longer than the short stings usually planned by local police.
- However, the improvement seen after the Miami Beach program was sustained with only minimal enforcement.
- The numbers were also generalized instead of being specific. It means that drivers at all crosswalks, not just those involved in the “education program,” were termed as less likely to violate the law.
- California vehicle code 21950 is roughly equivalent to a Florida state statute requiring drivers to yield to pedestrians.
If You Get a Failure to Yield Ticket
Being issued a traffic ticket is not automatically a no-win situation. In many cases, a skilled traffic ticket attorney can help you get the ticket dismissed. There are several different ways that this may be possible, which is why experience in the field is so important. Attorneys who specialize in traffic tickets know all of the legal ins and outs related to getting a ticket dismissed.
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