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Motorists, walkers urged to improve pedestrian safety
A recent series of accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians, plus the beginning of the busy winter visitor season and the seasonal agriculture worker influx, create a potentially volatile mixture, say city officials.
The last week of October saw a three-day span in which three accidents occurred between vehicles and pedestrians, including one fatality.
To prevent more such tragedies, the Yuma Police Department asks residents and visitors to take action to improve safety for pedestrians — and the motorists who encounter them.
YPD and the city of Yuma are cooperatively distributing a series of reminders of tips, best practices and laws pertaining to pedestrian safety. Residents are asked to review them, practice them and pass them on (nicely!) to friends, family members and members of groups with whom they associate.
The subject also came up during the Yuma City Council retreat Thursday, with council members relating horror stories of encountering pedestrians at night walking along streets wearing dark clothing.
“We are asking all residents to sharpen their awareness of pedestrian rules and safe practices,” said Yuma Police Chief John Lekan. “Walkers taking that extra step to go to the next traffic signal, motorists keeping a keen eye out to what's happening on the sidewalks and cross streets next to them — a little more attention all the way around can prevent these crashes from happening.”
Following these tips can help prevent these unfortunate incidents.
Whenever you're walking:
• Cross the street at a designated crosswalk or an intersection. Avoid crossing the street mid-block.
• Be careful at intersections, where drivers may fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians while turning onto another street.
• Increase your visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wear light-colored or reflective clothing.
• It's safest to walk on a sidewalk. If you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic.
• Drivers are more distracted than ever, so try to make eye contact with drivers before you step into the road.
• Avoid using headphones or anything that may limit your ability to hear.
Whenever you're driving:
• You can encounter pedestrians anytime and anywhere, even in places where they are not supposed to be.
• Pedestrians can be very hard to see, especially at night. You must keep a lookout and slow down if you can't see clearly.
• When entering a crosswalk area, drive slowly and be prepared to stop.
• Stop for pedestrians who are in a crosswalk even if it is not marked. Stop well back so that drivers in the other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.
• Do not overtake and pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSJoyceLobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.