19th Ave. Fines Kick into High Gear in SF

Drivers who are ticketed for speeding and driving recklessly on two of San Francisco's busiest roads will be soon be facing some pretty stiff fines.

Beginning Jan. 1 fines for traffic violations on 19th and Van Ness avenues will double.

Both roadways have been the scene of more than 500 crashes between 2003 and 2007. Dozens of pedestrians have also been hit by cars.

The increase in the fines is part of new legislation establishing higher fines for both roads.

After the first of the year, fines will range from $137 for speeding to as much as $2,750 for reckless driving.

Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, and others helped begin the effort to protect pedestrians along 19th Avenue about four years ago.

Through the years, several improvements have been delivered, including pedestrian countdown signals, better lighting, curb ramps and other features, Yee's office said in a statement.

Pedestrian related accidents have continued to plague the corridor despite the improvements, including five deaths in 2007, Yee's office reported.

“Finally, we now have the missing piece to the puzzle and can hopefully put an end to the loss of innocent lives, including students and elders, because of these high speed avenues,” said Yee.  “This new law is the result of hundreds of committed residents not giving up and fighting to make their neighborhood safer.”

Yee's office said he has been working to create a double fine zone along 19th Avenue since 2004. One of his bills was vetoed by the Governor and two stalled in committee. 

“We praise Senator Yee for his persistence in pursuing a double fine zone for 19th Ave,” said Manish Champsee, President of Walk San Francisco, a pedestrian safety advocacy organization. “Studies have shown that the faster a vehicle is traveling, the more likely and more deadly a crash with a pedestrian will be.”

10 Deaths from 2003 to 2007 on 19th Avenue

Under the new law, base fines for unlawful passing and overtaking, excessive speed, reckless driving, drunken driving, and other similar serious moving violations will be doubled. 

Current base fines range from $25.00 (for speeding up to 15 mph over the limit) to $500 (for reckless driving causing great bodily injury).  

From 2003 through 2007, there were more than 589 collisions, including 64 involving pedestrians, along 19th Avenue. 

These incidents resulted in 669 injuries and 10 pedestrian deaths. 

Along Van Ness Avenue, there were more than 527 collisions of which 71 involved pedestrians, resulting in 590 injuries and 5 pedestrian deaths.

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