The Santa Monica Police Department will be conducting a specialized motorcycle safety enforcement operation Sunday, April 15 in an effort to continue improving safety for motorcyclists.

Extra officers will be patrolling areas frequented by motorcyclists and where motorcycle crashes have generally occurred. As part of the initiative, officers will be cracking down on traffic violations made by motorcyclists as well as other vehicle drivers that can lead to motorcycle collisions, injuries and fatalities, police said.

Motorcycle fatalities had been on the rise in California, increasing by 175 percent in 10 years, from 204 deaths in 1998 to 560 deaths in 2008. This trend has reversed and data now shows a 37-percent decrease, to 394 fatalities in 2009 and 352 in 2010, police said.

“The terrible trend of rising motorcyclist fatalities has been reversed, though there is more that everyone can do to save more lives. Riders and drivers need to respect each other and share the road,” said California Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy.

California collision data reveals that primary causes of motorcycle-involved crashes include speeding, unsafe turning and impairment due to alcohol and other drugs. The Santa Monica Police Department is also reminding motorists to always be alert and watch out for motorcycles, especially when turning and changing lanes.

Some of the reduction in riders killed can be attributed to fewer improperly licensed riders, police said.

Funding for the operation was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For more information, Sgt. Phillbo Rubish at the Santa Monica Police Department Traffic Division, (310) 458-8950.