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education issues & programs

enforcement issues & programs
: overview
: targeting the pedestrian
: targeting the driver
: pedestrian "sting" operation


Drivers have a duty to yield right-of-way to pedestrians crossing streets in marked or unmarked crosswalks. Many drivers seldom or never do so. Often this is because drivers are speeding.

Frequently, the failure to yield right-of-way occurs when the driver is turning onto another street and a pedestrian is in their path. This is a particular threat to older adults.

A particularly deadly situation occurs when a driver on a multiple lane roadway stops for a pedestrian. Other vehicles overtake and pass the stopped car. Again law abiding pedestrians are victimized by careless drivers.

A crucial point is that drivers have a near absolute duty to avoid running down persons in the street, regardless of whether they are there legally or not. The uniform vehicle code, used as a model in most states, requires drivers to look out for and avoid striking pedestrians. We should also remember the common law rule that a person is expected to see what is there to be seen!

Pedestrians also have duties. They must stay off of certain roads and out of specified areas. They can cross most other streets in crosswalks. Outside crosswalks, they can cross if they yield right-of-way to cars. Pedestrians must not leave the curb so abruptly that drivers find it impossible to yield the right-of-way to them. They must comply with traffic signals.

Enforcement of the rules defining the relationship between drivers and pedestrians is complicated by the systematic removal of crosswalk markings in the USA in recent decades. Traffic engineers are nervous about the value of these markings. However, marked crosswalks are an important traffic control device and serious study is needed to find a way to make them work. Work is needed to increase the effectiveness of crosswalks, rather than eliminating them.

Crosswalks are needed to guide the pedestrian to a safe place to cross. They should be close enough that it is reasonable to expect a person to walk over to it, perceiving some value in going there. Most important, drivers should behave properly at a crosswalk so pedestrians find value in going there.

Police administrators need the support of public health injury prevention programs and traffic safety organizations in carrying out these enforcement programs. Members of the public are often more receptive to advice coming from these respected sources. .