By Mrs. Miriam U Rodriguez (ATEC)August 29, 2019
School is back in session and so are the crosswalks surrounding White Sands School at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
Jill Lewinski, the WSMR Child and Youth Services School Liaison Officer, would like to remind all drivers to Drive Slow and Watch for Children.
"I am seeing cars continue through the crosswalk while there is a child or myself in the crosswalk. They are (driving through) on my left as I am bringing a child through the crosswalk," Lewinski said.
As a reminder, the speed limit around the school area is 15 mph on school days, which are Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. The lights will be flashing.
Lewinski, who serves as a cross guard, said this has happened two different times since school started. She is at the crosswalk every morning at 7:30 a.m. at Ripley and Rock Island, then again at 2:45 p.m. making sure kids are safe.
Lewinski said people need to understand that traffic laws state that if there is a child or a person in a crosswalk you have to yield to them. "You cannot go through," she said.
"If obeying crosswalk laws is an issue (for drivers), they need to find another route to their destination."
Lewinski said that sometimes people forget that young children are just learning new skills with their bikes. Many of these children are on brand new bikes and they are excited to ride their bikes to school.
"In the meantime they are riding with a full backpack and lunch bag, maybe with an instrument, and their body mechanics are such that they don't have complete control," she said.
Lewinski also noted that because there are no designated bike lanes on Rock Island, children will more than likely go to the middle of the street mostly because there isn't a physical boundary.
Children often lack that natural boundary that most adults have.
Even while wearing an orange reflective vest Lewinski said she is petrified at the crosswalk because drivers just won't give pedestrians the right of way.
"This is our village, these are your children and they are our children. You must yield to all children when they are in those crosswalks."
Lewinski said she is looking for volunteers to help out at the crosswalks.
Lewinski is also inviting parents to join their children in riding their bikes to school every Friday.
"I would like to see more parents on their bikes accompany their children."
Lewinski also wants to remind parents that children must wear a helmet when on a bike, scooter, skateboard or roller skates. Contact Dolores Lopez at Child and Youth Services for more information.
Although traffic laws state that "No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that is impossible for the driver to yield" when you are dealing with children -- you never know what they are going to do -- so as a precaution slow down and wait whenever there is a child on the road.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) wants to remind the traveling public and pedestrians to think about traffic laws when in or near a school zone.
General traffic laws:
•No person shall exceed fifteen miles per hour while driving a vehicle on a highway while passing through a school zone (unless otherwise posted)
•A traveling vehicle shall yield to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within designated walk ways
•Every pedestrian crossing the roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway
•No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that is impossible for the driver to yield
•Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle
•Crosswalks may be established over highways abutting a school or the grounds adjacent to a school and all children crossing the highway shall be required to do so within the marked crosswalks
•Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon a roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and observe proper precaution upon observing any person on the roadway
Motorists are asked to watch for children when school is underway. When crossing an intersection it is advised to look in both directions. The NMDOT wants to encourage all to observe school zones.