MISSOULA – The Missoula Police Department will be conducting Pedestrian Crossing Emphasis patrols in an effort to enforce pedestrian crossing laws.
Missoula Police have increasingly been hearing of vehicles not stopping for pedestrians.
“We have actually gotten some complaints recently about vehicles not yielding while they are crossing the street,” MPD Sergeant Greg Amundson said.
So Missoula Police are starting Pedestrian Crossing Emphasis Patrols to prevent vehicle on pedestrian accidents.
And while vehicles can sometimes be the culprits when it comes to crosswalk violation, pedestrians can also be violators.
“Well it depends on where you are. If you’re kind of outside of the downtown area, most of the violations are cars. But if you get into the downtown area most pedestrians downtown, it seems like or not most, but an awful lot of them, they just kind of ignore the pedestrian heads,” Amundson said. “They cross during the countdown which actually is not legal to start crossing during the countdown.”
For drivers, MPD advises that you stay aware of your surroundings and be on the lookout constantly for pedestrians.
“Just keep an eye out for pedestrians. You know, pedestrians, they just don’t pop out of nowhere. They’re coming, it’s just that you have to be looking and you have to be paying attention. When you operate a car you kind of get used to just looking for other cars. Make sure that your also looking for pedestrians.”
He had some advice for pedestrians as well.
“It is not legal for a pedestrian to cross in the middle of the block. If they do they have to yield to all traffic,” Amundson said. “And then the other thing that a lot of pedestrians struggle with is if a car is close enough to pose an immediate hazard. Even if there is a painted crosswalk. Just because its there doesn’t mean you can step out in front of that car. You have to give the driver ample time to react and stop for you.”
Amundson said that it’s no coincidence that this new patrol is starting when school has just returned to session. The return of the college crowd causes more traffic around Missoula and a lot more use in Missoula’s crosswalks, especially around the University.