Problems for pedestrians, local officers speak on safety

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — In 2019, a pedestrian was killed every 85 minutes in traffic crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and PennDOT have given a grant to two local police departments to focus on pedestrian safety.

Police say it’s one stretch of South Main Street that has been problematic in the past years. Now they’re finally able to really focus on the issue.

Kingston and Wilkes-Barre City police officers spent the afternoon handing out pedestrian safety pamphlets to drivers. It’s part of their new focus on pedestrian safety.

“We think it’s pretty important for us because of… Obviously in the downtown, we have a lot of pedestrian traffic with the colleges, the businesses, and the high rise residential structures,” said Lt. Phil Myers, Wilkes-Barre City Police Department.

Both departments have been granted $2,000 to enforce pedestrian safety.

“This is to help make walkers and motorists aware now that the weather is nice that people are walking, people are getting out and about on bikes rollers skates, skateboards,” Northeast Highway Safety Program education coordinator Rebecca Ryback said.

Ryback says there have been a few severe pedestrian accidents over the last year, prompting the new focus. Police hope to clarify the rules of the road.

“For instance a pedestrian at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection would have the right of way. However if it’s a mid-block area that they’re crossing, the driver will have the right of away. Hopefully it’ll alleviate some confusion,” said Lt. Myers.

One of the areas known for issues with pedestrians crossing the street is on South Main Street across from the Wilkes University public safety center.

“This… Sometimes it’s a little scary because they don’t look at all. And then I could be in the middle of the cross walk and they’ll be on the other side blasting through the cross walk and I’m like okay…Don’t want to get hit today,” Wilkes University freshman Mia Rubino said.

Officials say there will be undercover police officers stationed to ensure the rules of the road are followed.

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