Are Crosswalk Laws Too Lenient?
Violating the state's crosswalk law can get you fined $200. Is that enough of a deterrent?
On Sunday, an elderly man was struck by a car while trying to use a crosswalk in downtown Peabody. He later died at the hospital.
Peabody is one of the area cities that routinely deploys a police officer in its downtown to monitor traffic and help pedestrians cross four lanes of traffic on Main Street – and not much gets past him.
But that’s just one officer, part-time, occasionally accompanied by another officer on a motorcycle, watching one busy crosswalk just up from Peabody Square.
In fact, about a quarter of a mile down Main Street at another busy intersection, a 63-year old woman was struck and killed by a car back in September of 2011. That accident occurred around 6 a.m., and there was no detail officer nearby.
Of course, pedestrians are struck in crosswalks all over the North Shore, not just in Peabody. Here are just a few such cases:
- In Danvers, a woman was seriously injured in a Maple Street crosswalk in November.
- In Salem, pedestrians are struck often. Here's a roundup we did of that city's most dangerous crossings.
- Here's a similar discussion about bad streets to cross that we hosted for Wakefield residents.
- In Marblehead, police ramped up enforcement during "Operation Crosswalk" back in 2011.
Returning to Peabody, readers may also recall still yet another pedestrian was killed in 2008 after being hit by an SUV on Lowell Street near Columbus Road. That man, however, was not in a crosswalk when he was hit.
So what's the punishment for drivers who violate the state's crosswalk law? In a nutshell, you can be fined up to $200.
Prosecutors can and do bring more serious charges — like vehicular homicide. But we wonder. Would stiffening the penalties for violating the state's crosswalk law have any impact on our region's infamous driving culture?
So what do you think? Is it time to toughen the Massachusetts crosswalk law, or would you leave it as is?
Editor's note: Other crosswalk issues from around the North Shore have been added to this post since it was published.