Police Chief Reminds Pedestrians and Drivers to Exercise Awareness

As the weather gets warmer and the community becomes more mobile, Marshfield Police Department Chief Rick Gramza reminds drivers and pedestrians to be vigilant in order to keep everyone safe.

Per Wisconsin State Statute, at an intersection or crosswalk where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals or by a traffic officer, the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian.

It isn’t just drivers that must abide by the law; pedestrians also have a legal responsibility. Per State Statute, 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 (346.24-2).

“If there’s a pedestrian in the roadway, traffic is expected to yield for that pedestrian,” summarized Gramza. “Additionally, pedestrian laws state you can’t enter the roadway if it’s unsafe.”

Anywhere there is congestion of traffic, such as in school zones or downtown, Gramza especially cautions both drivers and pedestrians to proceed with caution.

Crossing guards hired by the City and employed by the Police Department undergo training to ensure they are doing their best to keep both pedestrians and drivers safe, but are generally only present during school hours.

At certain intersections, such as the one at North Peach and Ives, citizens have reported one vehicle stopping for pedestrians, but the vehicle behind not stopping and nearly hitting the person crossing.

Not only dangerous, this maneuver is illegal. Per State Statute, whenever any vehicle is stopped at an intersection or crosswalk to permit a pedestrian, bicyclist, or rider of an electric personal assistive mobility device to cross the roadway, the operator of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle (346.24-3).

Another part of the City that concerns residents is the downtown area.

In a study conducted about downtown Marshfield, businesses reported a desire for more pedestrian traffic, but pedestrians reported not feeling comfortable walking throughout the vicinity, largely due to the heavy truck traffic and flow of vehicles. A committee is currently evaluating how to improve conditions for both drivers and pedestrians.

“Downtown, people don’t feel safe,” said Gramza, who has participated in the ongoing safety meetings to make this a safer downtown for people to visit businesses.

Lighted crosswalk signs near high-pedestrian areas such as Marshfield Clinic and certain school zones have been discussed, but come at a hefty price tag upwards of $18,000 each and are not recommended too near a lighted intersection.

“I think they’re good, but they are expensive,” said Gramza, who added that the lighted crosswalks near some local elementary schools were purchased with a grant through the Safe Routes to School program.

No matter the situation, Gramza encourages pedestrians to always cross at a crosswalk, especially a lighted crosswalk if available, and use the button to signal the “walk” lights.

For those behind the wheel, Gramza urges drivers proceed with caution in the downtown areas, yield when they see pedestrians, and follow the speed limit (25 MPH).

Most of all, Gramza encourages awareness.

“There are so many things distracting drivers these days.” Gramza. “You really need to be completely focused on driving and your surroundings.”

For the complete Wisconsin State Statutes regarding pedestrians, please click here.

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