Police enforcement is a primary component in preserving pedestrian right-of-way
and maintaining a safe environment for all modes of travel. Well-publicized
enforcement campaigns are often effective in deterring careless and reckless
driving and encouraging drivers to share the roadway with pedestrians
and bicyclists when combined with strategically installed traffic control
devices and public education programs. Most importantly, by enforcing
the traffic code, police forces implant a sense of right and wrong in
the general public and lend credibility to traffic safety educational
programs and traffic control devices.
Over the years, police departments around the country have consistently enforced traffic laws pertaining to driving under the influence, speeding, and running red lights. They have developed effective and socially accepted methods for measuring this behavior and apprehending offenders. However, enforcement of right of way laws has proven more difficult, as police forces have focused attention on more objective violations and/or not provided appropriate training to police officers. Good enforcement requires enforcing traditional traffic laws as well as ensuring equal protection for drivers as well as pedestrians and bicyclists.
There are a number of actions that municipalities can use to implement enforcement campaigns designed to protect pedestrians. These include increased police presence around school zones, residential neighborhoods, and other areas with high pedestrian activity; “pedestrian stings” involving police officers in civilian clothing; and high profile, hard hitting mass media campaigns to sign-post change and help set the public agenda. Some enforcement campaigns require special legislation to provide a legal basis for stricter crosswalk codes or right of way changes while other campaigns operate under existing ordinances.