OSWEGO, NY â€“ At about six feet tall and weighing more than 200 pounds, he can be an imposing figure at the Oswego Police Station.
However, while walking through some city crosswalks, he was virtually invisible to many drivers.
Recently, city police have been targeting vehicles that fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
According to Section 1151 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, â€œâ€¦the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk on the roadway upon which the vehicle is travelingâ€¦â€
To drive home the point, this week police have been conducting a special detail to educate motorists.
As part of this weekâ€™s detail, one officer, dressed in street clothes, would walk back and forth in a crosswalk as traffic approached him. Officers in a nearby patrol car would gauge whether the vehicle stopped or adequately slowed down to allow the pedestrian safe passage.
On Monday, officers pulled over dozens of violators and gave them warnings. They began writing tickets on Tuesday.
â€œWe gave out more than 20 warnings by Monday afternoon, and the detail was just about half over then,â€ Capt. Tory DeCaire told Oswego County Today.com.
Several of the motorists pulled over for not yielding to the pedestrian said the same thing â€“ they didnâ€™t notice anybody in the crosswalk.
â€œI just tried to educate (the driver) and told them that one, you disregarded the person or two youâ€™re simply not paying attention and did not see the person. Serious physical injure could have been the result â€“ or worse,â€ said one of the officers assigned to the detail.
One driver said that in the state where she used to live, â€œEverybody stops at the crosswalks.â€
But since sheâ€™s been in New York, she noticed not as many people stop. The officer explained that just because people donâ€™t do it, doesnâ€™t mean you donâ€™t have to abide by the law.
Another driver said they saw someone in the crosswalk, but wondered â€œwhy he wasnâ€™t stoppingâ€ for vehicular traffic.
One driver actually came very close to the â€œwalkerâ€™sâ€ leg.
Another driver said they thought the â€œwalkerâ€ had made it far enough through the crosswalk. Under the law, a pedestrian must clear the crosswalk entirely.
You have to yield the right of way to a pedestrian, not matter at what point theyâ€™re at in the crosswalk.
â€œThatâ€™s what weâ€™re out here to do, try to educate the public. Weâ€™re not out here looking to give out a bunch of tickets,â€ the officer continued. â€œThe purpose is to make motorists aware and protect pedestrians.â€
As a courtesy reminder, a couple of specifically marked crosswalks in the city feature bright yellow signs indicating that motorists must stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.
â€œThe law applies to all crosswalks, whether or not a courtesy sign is present,â€ Oswego Police Chief Mike Dehm pointed out.
During the summer months, the city experiences an increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic, which also increases the potential for car-pedestrian collisions, the captain explained.
â€œWe will continue targeting various crosswalks throughout this week. Then, using that data, we will determine where we need to perhaps assign special details,â€ DeCaire said. â€œWeâ€™ll also alert patrols to be more aware in certain problem areas.â€
The department will make a determination regarding the crosswalk patrols after analyzing the results of this weekâ€™s efforts and other factors.
The goal is to make motorists aware of the law and have â€œa safe environment for the summer,â€ DeCaire said.
The initiative will remain an on-going effort as long as violations are occurring, he added.