Friday, November 7, 2008

Protecting our school children

Below are excerpts from an inquiry that NewsLanc posed to the Lancaster Police Department and the response from Sgt. Todd Umstead:

To: Sgt. Umstead,

On the issue of pedestrians in crosswalks, PENNDOT has clarified for us that drivers must always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. We continue to observe that many drivers don't seem to take this seriously, taking such actions as.. cutting it close in turning just in front of or behind pedestrians.. or swerving around other vehicles that are stopped, seemingly oblivious to whether people, especially children, might be crossing.

We understand that the police can't be everywhere at once, but what steps is the Lancaster City Police department taking to enforce the law about stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks? Do you agree that this is a problem? Do you issue citations for this?

Response from Sgt. Umstead

I would agree that failure to yield to pedestrians is a problem, and I know that officers do enforce this and sometimes conduct details (especially in the downtown area, where pedestrian traffic is highest) specifically targeting these violations.

An interesting section of the PA Vehicle Code does place some responsibility on the pedestrian (see below). One example of this would be a jogger who just runs into the crosswalk without even slowing / looking to see if any vehicles are already entering, or close to entering, the intersection.

§3542. Right-of-way of pedestrians in crosswalks.

(a) General rule. - When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

(b) Exercise of care by pedestrian. - No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute a hazard.

(c) Limitation on vehicles passing. - Whenever any vehicle is stopped at any crosswalk at an intersection or at any marked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle...