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Our View: Pedestrian safety should be top priority

A reminder to motorists -- it is your responsibility to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks!

We received a letter last week. The writer described how motorists were ignoring walkers and bikers in crosswalks near the Hudson Middle School. Not only are motorists ignoring the crosswalk law, but according the writer, are sometimes ignoring the directions of an adult crossing guard at a busy intersection.

Assuming the writer is describing the situation accurately, it sounds like there is some serious inconsiderate and dangerous tactics in play. The writer suggests the newspaper send a reporter/photographer to watch the scene for a couple of days. We suggest that the police take on that role -- after handing out a few tickets the problem would probably be solved!

Hudson has many areas where pedestrian safety should be a high priority. The downtown area comes to mind. Hudson’s downtown is very busy with pedestrian traffic and it is the responsibility of drivers to observe pedestrian laws.

But there is pedestrian traffic in many other areas of Hudson. And, keep in mind that not all pedestrian paths have marked crosswalks. Drivers must yield whether a crossing is marked or unmarked.

Regardless of what part of Wisconsin law you study, there is one message that comes through loud and clear: the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian, or to a person who is riding a bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device.

In the case of an intersection with a school crossing guard, state law says: Every operator of a motor vehicle approaching a school crossing which is controlled by an adult school crossing guard appointed under s. 120.13 (31) or 349.215 shall follow the directions of the school crossing guard. If directed by the school crossing guard to stop, the operator shall stop the vehicle not less than 10 feet nor more than 30 feet from the school crossing and shall remain stopped until the school crossing guard directs the operator to proceed.

Pedestrians also have some responsibility: No pedestrian, bicyclist, or rider of an electric personal assistive mobility device shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or ride into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is difficult for the operator of the vehicle to yield.

The bottom line is that motorists must stay alert, watch for pedestrians and yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians must also stay alert and not jump in front of a car assuming you have the right of way. Don’t assume every vehicle will stop when you step off the curb -- as they say, you don’t want to be dead right. Look for eye contact with the vehicle driver as you cross the street with a car approaching.

Pedestrian safety should be front-and-center in everyone’s mind. We encourage all motorists to get into the habit of yielding to pedestrians. First, it is the right thing to do; second, it is the law!