By Lt. Christian Marsh
Special to GUIDON
Drivers on Fort Leonard Wood should be noticing portable warning signs being moved around the installation. The intent of this initiative is to educate the driving population on the likelihood that pedestrians may cross their paths.
The need for a reminder arises from the current prohibition of taxi use on the installation, which has resulted in increased pedestrian traffic from training units to Exchange facilities. Many of FLW’s drivers are returning from teleworking, and the Directorate of Emergency Services want to ensure it is making the roadways safe for everyone — drivers and pedestrians alike.
According to Missouri state law, a crosswalk is defined as the part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the roadway measured from the curbs, or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway; or any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface. In simpler terms, an unmarked crosswalk is at intersections or parts of the roadway where sidewalks on both sides are separated by the roadway.
I have stopped drivers for failing to yield to pedestrians, and their response has been something to the effect that they didn’t see any signs or stripes. Drivers need to understand that pedestrians may have the right of way — even if there are no visual markings on the roadway.
However, this does not mean pedestrians are free to cross the roadway wherever they want. State law dictates that every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway. Pedestrians are not supposed to cross a road where adjacent intersections have signals in place or crosswalks. This means that if there is a marked or unmarked crosswalk then pedestrian traffic should be crossing there, not in the middle of the road, or what is more commonly seen, just outside of a marked crosswalk.
As in years past, Military Police patrols will be patrolling and focusing on the installation’s crosswalks. The intent is to ensure pedestrians are using the crosswalks and that drivers are aware when pedestrians are crossing.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5,987 pedestrians died in accidents in 2016, which accounted for 16 percent of the overall traffic fatalities that year, 72 percent of those fatalities occurred at locations other than intersections, with 75 percent during the hours of darkness and 76 percent in urban areas.
DES’ intent in everything it does is to keep the population safe and mission ready. As this relates to pedestrian safety, everyone involved must focus on what they are doing and not get distracted.
(Editor’s note: Marsh is the traffic management and collision investigations officer-in-charge.)