In Other Words: Drivers, pedestrians both must follow laws, be alert, to be safeIn recent months there have been several instances of vehicles failing to yield to pedestrians while the pedestrian is within a crosswalk. But what are our responsibilities as a driver or a pedestrian? Well, hopefully I can shed some light on the subject to help keep everyone safe.
By: Dave Beintema, Submitted columnist
In recent months there have been several instances of vehicles failing to yield to pedestrians while the pedestrian is within a crosswalk. But what are our responsibilities as a driver or a pedestrian? Well, hopefully I can shed some light on the subject to help keep everyone safe.
There are a few different types of crosswalks. There are those at the end of the blocks that are not marked. Some are plainly marked on the roadway with the addition of a yield sign. Finally, there are those that are clearly marked and are controlled by a traffic light.
The rules pretty much apply the same to all. There are rules for both the pedestrian and the driver. The main thing that varies is the penalty for violating one of these rules. The penalties range from petty offense, which is a $25 fine, to a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is a $104 fine. Failing to yield to a pedestrian falls under city code as well as state codified law.
Keep in mind that police officers do not make these penalties. If at all possible, officers would prefer not to impose a fine. That’s where the public comes in.
I could give you all the legal mumbo jumbo that police officers, lawyers and judges use to determine if a law has been violated, but I’m not going to in this case. Instead, I’ll just give you the Readers’ Digest version.
• If the pedestrian is crossing in any clearly marked crosswalk or regular pedestrian crossing, such as those at the end of a block, the driver must yield. If violated by a driver, this is punishable under a petty offense.
• If the pedestrian is legally crossing at an intersection where it is controlled by a traffic light, the driver must yield. This is where the pedestrian is crossing under a green light. If the driver is turning, it is the driver’s responsibility to yield until the pedestrian clears the intersection. If violated by a driver, this is also punishable under a petty offense.
• Finally, the topic I believe confuses the most people: yield signs. A driver approaching a yield sign shall slow down to a reasonable speed and if necessary shall yield to any pedestrians crossing within the crosswalk. In this case, we are not only talking about the normal yield sign. The city has placed horizontal yellow pedestrian signs that have a yield sign on them at strategic locations throughout the city where pedestrian traffic is particularly high.
Yes, these are yield signs intended to protect pedestrians. It is the driver’s duty to yield to pedestrians and wait until the pedestrian is completely out of the crosswalk before proceeding. If violated by a driver, this is punishable under a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Don’t think I forgot about the pedestrian’s rules.
The pedestrian must cross within the crosswalk. The pedestrian is not permitted to cross against a red light. If a vehicle has entered the intersection prior to the pedestrian crossing, it does not permit the pedestrian the right away. IF crossing outside of a crosswalk the pedestrian does not have the right away. If violated by a pedestrian, this is punishable under a petty offense.
The main thing to remember is that it is everyone’s responsibility to help maintain a safe environment. Drivers, please don’t get in a rush and just slow down a bit. The last thing anyone wants is to hit a pedestrian.
Keep in mind that as drivers, it is our responsibility to keep our vehicle under control.
And pedestrians, use common sense to stay safe. If you see a vehicle coming and you think the driver may not see you, don’t cross.
Dave Beintema is a patrol sergeant with the Mitchell Police Division.
In Other Words features opinions from local and other contributors who have areas of special interest or expertise. Material shouldn’t exceed 600 words and can be sent, along with a photo, to: Editor, The Daily Republic, 120 S. Lawler, Mitchell, S.D., 57301. The Daily Republic cannot guarantee all submitted material will be used.