Operators of vehicles in the city of New London will want to pay special attention as they approach crosswalks in the city. That’s because the police department has announced that it is embarking on an awareness program to make residents aware of the crosswalk law.
Jay Zempel, assistant police chief in New London, said the crosswalk law states that “all drivers must yield right away to any pedestrian or bicyclist.” This must be done whether it is a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
Zempel said the department is increasing the enforcement of this law because of the limited number of crossing guards in the city. He said because of budget issues, the school has pulled many of its crossing guards.
On Thursday, Nov. 15, the department had a team of four enforcing the crosswalk law at different high profile crosswalks in the city. The first crosswalk was the one by the hospital.
“In about an hour we made something like 18 traffic stops,” Zempel said. “We went downtown in the afternoon at about 2 p.m. and in about 45 minutes we made another 15-20 [stops] with no problem at all.”
Zempel said the stops were for violations in which a pedestrian was clearly in the crosswalk. He said in one instance a motorist actually pulled out of its lane to drive around the pedestrian in the crosswalk.
The police department was surprised at the volume of violations, Zempel said.
In the majority of the stops, Zempel said the motorists told the officer that they knew they should have stopped.
“One or two would say there was no sign there. Whether there is a sign there or not, it’s still a crosswalk and you still have to yield to a pedestrian or bicyclist,” Zempel said.
For the time being, motorist will be given written warnings if they violate this law.
“We are going to be doing this a lot in the upcoming year,” Zempel said. “Depending how the weather holds this year yet, we hope to get out at least several more times at all hours of the day at different intersections. We are going to start to concentrate on the ones on Division and Oshkosh Street where a lot of school kids are crossing and seeing how those are being obeyed. We plan for the first month or so to be giving some written warnings.”
In the spring, as the weather warms up, Zempel said traffic citations will be given to motorists violating the law. He said the police department will enforce the violation if a pedestrian or bicyclist is clearly in the crosswalk.
The fine for violating the law is up to $250. It is also a four-point violation, Zempel said.
Zempel said that the increased enforcement is not a way to generate revenue. Rather, it is a way to bring awareness to the dangers surrounding crosswalks in an effort to decrease accidents in those areas.