Pedestrians have responsibilities as well as drivers

To the Editor:

This may not be a very popular opinion but, after just reading an article about a boy being hit in Middleburgh, I felt a more compelling need to write this letter beyond me just being frustrated with people walking out in front of vehicles approaching crosswalks or vehicles stopping traffic dead to allow people to cross.

I have included the verbiage of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law for pedestrians’ right of way in crosswalks.  While drivers of vehicles do have to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, pedestrians also have the responsibility to not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.

The law is meant to have drivers yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, not to have them enter into crosswalks while traffic is approaching without a reasonable amount of time to cross before the vehicle reaches the crosswalk. 

Adult pedestrians who do not follow the law in this way, could be teaching younger children that they have every right to go into a crosswalk and the vehicle approaching will be sure to stop for them.  Is this what the 14-year old boy in Middleburgh was taught?

Although he was crossing in a crosswalk, after police spoke to witnesses, it was determined that speed, drugs, and alcohol were not factors and that the boy may have misjudged the distance and time he had to cross, not allowing the driver time to react and stop prior to the crosswalk.  The driver was not charged.

Thankfully, the boy escaped with just a broken leg.

I see the crosswalks in Altamont abused by pedestrians almost every time I drive though the village.  If this letter can help save someone from being hit and a driver not having the awful feeling of harming an individual it was well worth my writing it and your reading it.

Here’s what the law says: Article 27, section 1151. Pedestrians` right of way in crosswalks.  (a) When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk on the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, except that any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overpass has been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles.

(b) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield.

(c) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

Mare Donohue

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