‘Stings’ are aimed at crosswalk safety
Plan to focus on getting motorists to exercise caution
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 02:51 AM
By Doug Caruso
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
For the next few weeks, drivers who forget they’re supposed to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks could be reminded by police officers.
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is working with Columbus and several suburbs to set up “crosswalk stings.” Though police officers could issue $100 tickets, they plan to stop and warn drivers who fail to share the road with pedestrians. They’ll focus on crosswalks where there are no traffic lights and drivers are supposed to slow or stop for all pedestrians.
If you’re a regular reader, you probably know that pedestrian accessiblity and safety are two of the things that I care most about when it comes to transportation. So of course I fully endorse this enforcement effort. However, while reading this article I couldn’t help but think that there may be times when it is actually more dangerous for a driver to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk than to keep on going.
Now if the pedestrian is already in the road, by all means the driver needs to yield. But what if the pedestrian is still on the sidewalk waiting for a gap in traffic to cross the street? What if the street is a high-speed, high volume, multi-lane roadway? Stopping unexpectedly could mean risking a rear-end collision from the driver behind you. Even worse, the driver behind you might change lanes and hit the same pedestrian to whom you were trying to yield. This situation is known as the multiple threat.
I’d like to say that I always yield to pedestrians when driving and follow the law to the letter, but it’s not true. I try to use common sense and professional engineering judgment to make the safest decision for the pedestrians, myself, and other drivers. What do you do? Do you have any thoughts on this?
UPDATE: Bryan raises a good point in the comments. The multiple threat drawing shown above (from walkinginfo.org) doesn’t show the pedestrian crossing in a crosswalk, but the situation does still apply at intersections where drivers are legally required to yield.