Put safety first at crossings
By BEV DOOLE and MDC road safety co-ordinator ROBYN BLACKBURN Senior Constable Susan Bush of the Blenheim Police is genuinely puzzled about Marlborough people and pedestrian crossings.
‘‘I don’t know what it is about Marlborough drivers and pedestrians, whether they’re too busy or too relaxed or there’s not enough happening to make them really focus.’’
‘‘ But the behaviour around crossings is shocking. Marlborough people are not aware of the road rules,’’ she says.
As the Police school community officer, Sue spends time with junior classes out on the streets teaching them how to get safely across the road.
‘‘I tell them that the safest place to cross is at a zebra crossing but every time we are out a car will drive straight through without stopping.
‘‘ Even though the law says drivers must stop for pedestrians who are crossing or waiting to cross. ‘‘ One day, there I was in my high-viz police uniform, standing with the children at a zebra crossing waiting to cross, and eight cars drove through before one would stop.
‘‘What concerns me is that if I’m teaching children that this is a safe place to cross, what is going to happen if they are on their own and step out?,’’ Sue says.
The senior constable’s message to all pedestrians, young and old, is: ❚ Always wait before you step out on to the crossing. ❚ Look at the driver.
Make sure they have stopped, and the wheels of their vehicle have stopped before you cross the road. Her frustration and concern prompted her to write a pamphlet, with the support of the Marlborough District Council, called How to Walk the Walk.
It’s a clear and friendly explanation of the road rules about crossing the street, from the perspective of pedestrians and drivers.
Readers will also recognise the streets because Sue uses photos of Marlborough to explain the differences between zebra crossings and courtesy crossings.
‘‘A courtesy crossing is a raised paved area, level with the footpath, that goes across the road,’’ she says. ‘‘ It’s the motorist’s call whether or not to stop at a courtesy crossing.
‘‘Pedestrians do not have the right of way, so it’s really important to make eye contact to check if a vehicle is going to stop or not.’’
The brochure is pitched at all ages and is a good mem- ory nudge for any drivers rusty on the road code.
And just to put a human face to the messages, how about imagining it is your child, grandchild or another young relative stepping out on to that crossing ahead?
The brochure is available at the libraries, council offices and police stations in Blenheim and Picton.