Pedestrian safety in vicinity of schools

At a recent work session, trustees and officials in the village of Malone discussed a serious matter regarding the crosswalk on East Main Street. (Route 11) at the intersection with Morton Street. Specifically, some drivers are not obeying the directions of the school crossing guard who assists children crossing to and from Flanders Elementary School.

School crossing guards, other than volunteers, are empowered to direct pedestrian and vehicular traffic at locations where they are assigned. The legal authority to do this is under New York state General Municipal Law, section 208-A. Failure to obey a school crossing guard falls under section 1102 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL), which states: “No person shall fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer or flagperson or other person duly empowered to regulate traffic.” Sanctions for violating section 1102 are fines of up to $150 plus applicable surcharges and up to 15 days in jail for the first offense. This violation includes two points on your license.

Furthermore, Flanders Elementary school has beacons flashing when students are going to or from the school, meaning the speed limit is 20 mph when the beacons are flashing. Also noteworthy, fines are doubled for speeding in school speed zones.

Although this column is centered on the crosswalk at Flanders School, at the request of the Malone Village Police Department, drivers should pay extra attention at any crosswalk near a school because you should expect that children will be present.

Pedestrian safety is a two-way street — drivers must be aware of pedestrians and what they might do, and pedestrians must be aware of drivers and what they might do. If drivers and pedestrians are aware of the other and obey the basics of vehicle and traffic laws, vehicle-pedestrian crashes should be minimal.

Drivers must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and at intersections, even if there are no crosswalks painted on the street. At all intersections, there is an implied crosswalk if none is painted. Motorists should never block a crosswalk. If you can’t get past a crosswalk on the far side of an intersection because of backed up traffic, you should not enter the intersection. And you must stop prior to the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. If you can’t see the crosswalk, you’re probably on it.

Drivers should obey posted speed limits and take extra care around schools, playgrounds and neighborhoods. They should always look out for pedestrians, especially when turning either right or left at a green light or making a right turn on red. Many near misses result from drivers turning at an intersection while not paying close attention to the possibility that a pedestrian is crossing the street that the driver wants to turn onto.

Pedestrian safety doesn’t just fall on motorists — pedestrians must follow vehicle and traffic laws and be aware of their vulnerability compared to vehicles. A pedestrian will always lose a battle with a vehicle. Pedestrians should cross at intersections and marked crosswalks but should not step into the crosswalk if an approaching vehicle is so close as to make it impractical for the driver to stop for the pedestrian. Whenever and wherever you are crossing, make eye contact with approaching drivers.

If an intersection has a pedestrian walk signal, it is illegal to cross against the “don’t walk” phase, even if there is no traffic. Push the button and wait for the walk signal.

The best advice to drivers, see; and to pedestrians, be seen. Safety is no accident! Law enforcement will be watching.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today