FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Police Department has a fresh idea to try and reverse the trend of rising traffic fatalities in the city. The department will be utilizing billboards throughout Fresno to raise awareness and alert drivers of pedestrians in the roadway.
Billboards with Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer's face are popping up all over town as part of the department's effort to raise awareness and remind drivers to look out for pedestrians.
"There were 33 people killed in 2016, 52 in 2017. That's a dramatic increase in what we saw in the number of people who lost their lives," said Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Chief.
It was also Fresno's highest number of traffic-related deaths in 15-years. The billboard's message, "drive safe, drive sober, be alert," hopes to curb the city's rising trend of fatalities including those caused by impaired drivers and pedestrians in the roadway.
Officers responded by issuing 500 pedestrian citations in the month of January alone.
"We have to do that consistently throughout the course of the year. When you consider how many people are out there in our roadways, crossing the street illegally, getting struck by vehicles, and then, unfortunately, a family member having to bury their loved one," said Jerry Dyer.
Along with stepped up enforcement efforts, the department is adding a new educational component to the campaign.
"We think it's going to be very effective. So the combination of public awareness and enforcement is going to cause us, I believe next year, to see a significant reductions in traffic fatalities," said Dyer.
The billboards will not cost the city any money. OUTFRONT Media and others have stepped up to cover costs.
New billboard campaign aims to reduce traffic fatalities