Put safety first at cross­ings

Marlborough Midweek - - Front Page -

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.

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