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Walking in the street

March 12, 2011

In February, a tragic car/pedestrian collision occurred in the village of Malone. The pedestrian died from severe head trauma. The basics of the tragedy were that the pedestrian was walking in a south westerly direction on a village street shortly after 4 p.m. and was hit from behind by a motorist that claimed she did not see the pedestrian because the sun was directly in her eyes.

Discussions throughout the village following this unfortunate event led to the fact that not everyone knows that pedestrians must walk facing traffic when walking in a village street or along a rural road. Others know the law but do not always abide by it. No matter, it is the expressed goal of the Traffic Safety board to educate the public on the laws pertaining to all traffic, including pedestrians, bicycles, in-line skating, and, of course, vehicular traffic. Past "Did You Know" articles dealing with pedestrians probably tried to cover too much about crossing intersections with and without crosswalks, crossing at mid-block, and who has the legal obligation to yield to whom.

Let us all take this tragedy and learn from it. No one is perfect, but we can all do better if we know the laws and choose to follow them.

In the tragic event that claimed a valuable life in Malone, a combination of bad things happened. The sidewalks were likely covered with snow and/or ice, making them unsafe to walk on, forcing pedestrians to use the street. Article 47-12 of the Village of Malone code states that the owner or occupant of every building or lot where there is a sidewalk, including vacant lots, shall see that the sidewalk is at all times kept unencumbered and free from snow, ice, and other matter that may obstruct the proper and free use of the sidewalk. Many property owners fail to comply with this requirement.

Also, the victim was walking with traffic, not against it. At the same time, the setting sun was directly in the face of the motorist driving in the same direction. Had the pedestrian been walking on the correct side, against traffic, this accident would not have occurred. When pedestrians are walking correctly in streets and roads, they are facing oncoming vehicles. If the sun is in the eyes of the pedestrian, the sun is behind the driver and he/she has a clear view. If the sun is in the eyes of the driver, the pedestrian has a clear view of the approaching car's position and can take evasive action if the vehicle is coming too close for comfort.

Following is applicable state Vehicle and Traffic Law in this case:

-Article 1156 (a) "Where sidewalks are provided and they may be used with safety it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway".

-Article 1156 (b) "Where sidewalks are not provided any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall when practicable walk only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. Upon the approach of any vehicle from the opposite direction, such pedestrian shall move as far to the left as practicable".

-Although not required by law, pedestrians walking along a street or road in darkness should wear bright or reflective clothing and/or carry a flashlight.

-Also applicable to pedestrians walking in a street or roadway is article 1146 of state V and Law - "Drivers to Exercise Due Care." This means every driver has an obligation to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist, pedestrian, or domestic animal. This was aptly covered in a "Did You Know" article in November 2010.

In summary, vehicle and traffic laws are enacted for the safe movement of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Violating them puts oneself or others in jeopardy. Know the laws and follow them for a safer community.



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