Police, concerned locals urge drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- After two close calls at crosswalks with cars almost hitting pedestrians, West Richland police are reminding everyone to slow down and not drive distracted.
"I just wish people would pay attention. It blinks and everything. There's no reason not to see it blinking," said James Gnann, a concerned resident.
Gnann said just two days ago, a car came close from badly hurting his granddaughter in a West Richland crosswalk.
"She hit the button and a car didn't stop and she had to jump back to not get hit," said Gnann.
It caused the little girl to fall backwards onto the concrete.
"I've seen people turning lights on the crosswalk light and almost get hit by a car," said Roberta Hagen, another concerned citizen.
At another nearby crosswalk, a neighbor had the same concerns.
Roberta said she refuses to let her daughter use those crosswalks.
At one of the crosswalks, Action News pressed the button and waited for cars to stop.
Five cars blew through the crosswalk.
"We're just letting the public know this a concern and we're watching these things," said Sgt. Duane Olsen with the West Richland Police Department.
Police are urging you to start paying closer attention to crosswalks not just in West Richland, but all over the Tri-Cities.
“It is an infraction. It can be a criminal infraction if you're going through a crosswalk recklessly with somebody in it," said Olsen.
Officials said drivers need to be aware of their surroundings and not be distracted.
But pedestrians must be responsible too.
"People crossing the road have to use their head and press that button, but give the vehicle time to stop and slowdown," added Olsen.
With school right around the corner, there will be more children crossing the streets.
"They could very well run out in front of a vehicle so those speeds are reduced so you can stop," said Olsen.
Police say pedestrians shouldn’t wear headphones or earbuds so they can be more aware of their surroundings when crossing a street.