Police cracking down on crosswalk violations

Posted at 7:25 AM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-22 07:44:25-04

Police are putting the brakes on drivers who don't stop at crosswalks. On Wednesday officers in East Lansing started a new approach, going undercover to try and catch violators.

Police ticketed one driver who went through a crosswalk while pedestrians were trying to cross.

The enforcement started in the morning as kids were heading to school. It started because crossing guards have been reporting violations almost every day this year.

"On Monday I had five people in the crosswalk and the car almost didn't stop," said Sara Murray, who works as a crossing guard in East Lansing.

Murray walks hundred of kids to and from Marble Elementary School.

She says distracted drivers are the main cause of violations.

"People are in a hurry and they're not paying attention," Murray said. "I see a lot of texting and driving."

Murray says impatient drivers are just as bad, with some keeping their cars rolling so it's almost in the crosswalk then taking off before everyone has crossed.

So when signs don't work, police hope tickets will. Officers in unmarked cars are paroling East Lansing's busiest crosswalks, trying to catch violators on tape, then radioing for patrol cars.

"We had some dedicated patrol officers near these crosswalks to make stops if we saw any violations," said Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth with the East Lansing Police Department.

Officers will write tickets or warnings, but police say their main goal is to get more drivers paying attention to the road.

"Kids are unpredictable, you never know what they're going to do and not every crosswalk is staffed by a crossing guard," added Lt. Wriggelsworth.

Many crosswalks don't have a light but drivers are required to come to a full stop when someone's trying to cross, still not all drivers do.

"Whether they're in the crosswalk or even on the side of the road stop, give them that protection," Lt. Wriggelsworth said.

It's something Boku Hendrickson says doesn't always happen when he walks his two granddaughters to school.

"The kids are most important and all that can wait," Hendrickson said.

So Hendrickson's hoping stepped up patrols will make a difference.

"You want them to be safe, you want every kid to be safe. It would tear my heart out if a kid gets hit by a car," he said.

A worst case scenario Murray knows it doesn't take much to prevent.

"Just be patient, it's an extra couple minutes out of your day," she said.

The new enforcement isn't foolproof, on Wednesday a lot of parents noticed the undercover officers filming the crosswalks and actually reported them to the police. Officers say that's exactly what parents should do if they see a suspicious car. From now on though police will let schools know when they're doing enforcement, just in case they're spotted.

Police aren't just targeting school zones, they're doing the same enforcement at crosswalks downtown where there's a lot of foot traffic. They're also ticketing cyclists who don't stop.

A crosswalk violation tickets costs $155.