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Cross walkers

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By Carol A. Clark

Police caution motorists on Central Avenue to slow down and yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. After receiving complaints, police placed a speed monitoring device on Central to remind drivers to watch their speed.Members of the Los Alamos Police and Los Alamos County Traffic Control are planning to meet to work together on the issue.“We look forward to working with the traffic division to address citizen complaints,” Det. Doug Johnson said. Engineering Assistant Alipio Mondragon of the County Traffic Division discussed the situation during an interview this morning. “We plan to meet with police next week,” he said. “We’re going to get together to share what we know with each other and determine how to move forward from there.”Johnson said driving within the speed limit and yielding to pedestrians will become increasingly important as the holidays grow near. “We expect to see more downtown pedestrian traffic as people begin their shopping and it's really important for drivers to adhere to traffic laws,” he said.New Mexico has one of the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the nation, driven mostly by alcohol-involved fatalities, according to the New Mexico Comprehensive Transportation Safety Plan (CTSP). Pedestrians account for 10-12 percent of all fatalities in New Mexico and the state has had about 55 pedestrian fatalities per year over the last few years. While the pedestrian fatality rate has been falling for years nationwide, New Mexico is still in the top five states for pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population.The data was compiled to help guide the identification and privatization of CTSP emphasis areas.In a presentation of state mandates, the New Mexico State University Police Department’s Crime Prevention and Public Information Offices said when using a crosswalk, pedestrians must walk on the right side of the crosswalk whenever possible, (66-7-338 NMSA 1978). When crossing where there are traffic control devices, pedestrians must obey the signals. This includes “walk/don’t walk” signals, as well as regular traffic control lights including red, green, and yellow lights and turn arrows, (66-7-333 and 66-7-105 NMSA 1978). Pedestrians have the right-of-way when crossing a street within a crosswalk, the offices said, as long as the pedestrian does not suddenly leave the curb and get in the path of a vehicle that does not have time to react and stop. If not otherwise prohibited, according to the offices, pedestrians may cross a street at any point, but must yield to all vehicles – vehicles have the right-of-way if a pedestrian is crossing at any place except at an intersection or crosswalk (66-7-335.A NMSA 1978). Even at an intersection, pedestrians must yield to vehicles if pedestrian tunnels or overhead bridges are provided (66-7-335.B NMSA 1978). It is important to note that even though vehicles do have the right-of-way unless a pedestrian is using a crosswalk, drivers must still use reasonable care in operating their vehicles, and are required to use their horns and take other precautions, especially if children, or confused or incapacitated adults are observed (66-7-337 NMSA 1978).Parking lots are another danger zone for pedestrians and police urge drivers to slow down as lots of people, especially children dart out from parked cars and can easily be hit by a fast moving vehicle.