Enforce Pedestrian Laws

A police officer hands out pedestrian law brochures to drivers during an enforcement effort in Durham, N.C.In most states, drivers are supposed to yield to or stop for pedestrians crossing the street in a crosswalk, even if the pedestrian is in an unmarked crosswalk. However, these laws are not emphasized enough in driver education and often are not enforced enough. This problem is more pronounced on higher speed streets where it is more difficult to get drivers to slow or yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians may become afraid to cross the street when motorists won't stop for them. These people may walk less. Fortunately, a number of steps can be taken to make pedestrian crossings safer that involve police enforcement and physical improvements.

An officer pulls over a driver at a school crosswalk in California.Police enforcement is useful in educating motorists of the requirement to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. Police enforcement is most effective when it is part of a public safety information campaign. Enforcement campaigns designed to increase yielding behavior can produce a marked and sustained increase in the percentage of motorists yielding to pedestrians depending on how long the campaign lasts (i.e., longer campaigns equate to more sustained success). While enforcement projects are helpful, more long-term, on-going police enforcement measures should also be undertaken. City officials are essential in making pedestrian safety a priority to the police. Citizens and neighborhood advocates must inform their public officials of this need.