PROGRAM PROMOTES PEDESTRIAN SAFETY

May 16, 2001 11:00 pm

Have you stopped for a pedestrian lately?

Too many drivers forget that pedestrians have the right of way at intersections. In virtually every community nowadays, pedestrians are forced to wait and wait at intersections because drivers ignore them. Every once in a great while a motorist will surprise a pedestrian and actually stop to let the person cross the street.

Beginning

today, Oregon is hoping to change drivers habits concerning pedestrian safety. Today marks the start of the states Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation. A federal grant will allow 20 communities around the state including La Grande and Union to launch targeted crosswalk enforcement programs. Police departments will use plainclothes officers posing as pedestrians trying to cross a busy intersection. Drivers who dont obey pedestrian safety laws will be issued warnings or citations. Fines can range as high as $175.

Pedestrian safety needs to be addressed throughout the state. Pedestrians take their lives into their own hands in almost every town when they step off the sidewalk. Pedestrians never know if a vehicle will stop or how long they might have to wait to cross a street safely.

Too many accidents are occurring. In 1999, 642 pedestrians were injured and 47 were killed in Oregon. The numbers are proof that motorists have grown careless about pedestrian safety. If numbers arent enough, take a walk and see for yourself.

Motorists need to be reminded of the importance of watching out for pedestrians. If common sense and courtesy fail to remind us of how we should drive when pedestrians are present, the law should. And thats exactly the point of the states pedestrian safety program.

CYCLISTS NEED TO OBEY RULES OF ROAD, TOO

Motorists arent the only ones who need to reacquaint themselves with the rules of the road. Too often people riding bicycles forget that by law they are supposed to follow the same rules as vehicles namely, staying to the right and signaling when they turn.

In La Grande, too many bicyclists ride against traffic or on sidewalks and few signal their turns. And the problem riders arent just the kids. Adults are just as careless.

We need to be more careful as drivers, as bicyclists, as pedestrians. We need to teach our kids how to be safe drivers, riders and walkers. And we need to follow what we teach.