Cops to Drivers: Stop for Pedestrians [PHOTOS]

Woburn Police conduct pedestrian safety operation downtown Wednesday.


Hundreds of people cross streets in Woburn daily, especially during warm weather like this past week. But how many cars stop for pedestrians in cross walks?

In less than an hour Wednesday morning, stopped at least eight cars that failed to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

"For the most part, people do stop," said WPD Sgt. Paul Tenney.

But for those that didn't on Wednesday, they were given a written warning and a Woburn Police Department Pedestrian Safety pamphlet.

One driver argued with Woburn Police Officer Mario Pascuccio Wednesday as the patrolman handed the man a warning.

"This is normally a $200 fine, sir," Officer Pascuccio informed him.

Woburn Police conducted the pedestrian safety operation Wednesday at four intersections downtown. Sgt. Tenney and Officer Pascuccio were working their regular shift, while Officers Michael Pacheco and Ian Hunt were able to assist thanks to money from a Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety Grant. The grant was procured by Lt. Chris Wackrow through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this year.

With the grant money, Woburn Police has produced the Pedestrian Safety pamphlets and hopes to run more crosswalk operations this summer.

How did the police capture so many drivers Wednesday? WPD summer intern Erin Murphy crossed Main and Pleasant streets several times between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Sgt. Tenney kept an eye on the traffic, signaling to Officers Pascuccio, Pacheco and Hunt which cars did not stop for Murphy.

"We're focusing on the Three E's of traffic safety," said Sgt. Tenney. "Education, enforcement and engineering."

Residents with concerns or suggestions regarding pedestrian safety should contact the Woburn Police at 781-933-1212 ext. 813 or online at police@woburnpd.com.


Pedestrian Safety and Responsibilities:

  • Only use designated crosswalks
  • Do not assume drivers can and will stop
  • Use good judgment
  • Be predictable, wear bright colors or use reflectors at night

Driver Safety and Responsibilities:

  • Be attentive
  • Be alert
  • Remember when turning on a green light, the pedestrian has the right of way
  • Pedestrians crossing at an uncontrolled intersection have the right of way
  • Do not pass vehicles stopped for pedestrians

Information provided by the WPD Traffic Safety Division.

Earnhardt June 21, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Great! now you have resorted to trapping people into fines to raise money? Seriously? put the resources to more important issues. like speeding on our side streets and ticketing red light violators at pleasant st/ n.warren st.
Jean June 21, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Agreed, however, it works both ways. Pedestrians, need to stop and wait for us to stop before jumping out into the crosswalk because they have the right of way. Too many people downtown just begin crossing thinking they have the right of way, which is true, but if I don't see you in time to stop guess who wins that argument.
Geraldine Kehoe June 21, 2012 at 01:10 PM
I don't drive downtown very often because the traffic can be so bad, but on the occasions that I do, I have noticed that cars seem, to me, to be traveling much to fast for the area. With cars usually parked along the entire length and the danger of someone opening the driver's door into traffic, I usually go pretty slow. This seems to aggravate many of the drivers behind me and I have even had drivers try to pass me at the lights at Main, Salem and Campbell Sts. If you are in that much of a hurry, do not go through Woburn Center! And since none of the stops in this "sting" resulted in tickets, only warnings, I can't see how anyone could think of this as entrapment for the purposes of money making. They were given warnings and a pamphlet. No tickets! To me the money from the grant was used exactly as it should have been. It was a fact finding operation for the purpose of gathering counts on how many people actually stop for pedestrians and also for education. Now, how about they come down to Horn Pond where I live and do the same thing. And while they are at it, stop the speeders and illegal parkers at the North end of the Pond. Gerry
Deb & Dan June 21, 2012 at 01:19 PM
How is getting people to obey the law and drive safely "Trapping" them? As someone who walks several miles ever day I can tell you you can stand in the cross walk and signal you are trying to cross and still have to watch a half dozen cars go through the cross walk with out stopping.
Mike Provo June 21, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Great program WPD. Thank you!!
Shannon Sevier June 21, 2012 at 01:29 PM
I refuse to drive downtown because of the stupidity shown by some of the people who cross the St! Instead of stopping on the sidewalk and then heading into the crosswalk some people just bomb right out expecting you to be able to stop with bumper to bumper traffic my fear of getting rear ended goes up x100!! I always travel cautiously through the center much to the aggravation of fellow drivers and it's because of what I call the "bombers" the ones who like to dart off the sidewalk into traffic. I appreciate the WPD trying to make drivers aware however they should spread the love and tag J-walkers while they are at it.
Loretta Pioch June 21, 2012 at 02:37 PM
As a driver who is perfectly willing and happy to stop at crosswalks for walkers, *I* find it challenging to do so correctly. 1) tons of jay walkers make it visually difficult to discern. It is chaotic. 2) I have to remain very focused on the insane traffic, doors opening, cars jumping in front of me to also be able to parse crosswalks 3) There are a LOT of cross walks! As one with children trying to walk across, I am appreciative of the MANY options. However, it does make it easier for drivers to ignore when they are just feet apart from each other. As a walker, even on hot days, I can walk a little further to reduce the number of cross walks to make it easier for drivers to pay attention to them. 4) When I cross at a cross walk, all I have to do is stand visibly in the cross walk but not yet crossing, and instantly the cars stop. It is the walkers that stand on the side-walk, invisible because they are hidden by parked cars, that make it difficult to see them. ~ Loretta
OldTownie June 21, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Another thing that needs more enforcement is the illegal parking downtown. It is not uncommon to see one or more cars parked or standing in crosswalks, handicap zones, hydrant zones, or bus stops in the small stretch between Salem St. and Winn St. on my ride home from work. I’ve seen way more pedestrians forced around illegally parked cars than I’ve seen tickets on said cars.
Earnhardt June 21, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Its isnt entrapment IF the person walks out as if to cross. when the person just STANDS THERE! and does nothing, then points to the cops as you go by that you didnt let her cross, THATS ENTRAPMENT! thats exactly what was going on yesterday! I STOOD AND WATCHED IT HAPPEN 3 TIMES
Danielle Masterson (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 10:58 PM
While I was watching, the pedestrian crossed the street several times while Sgt. Tenney observed who did or didn't stop. He would then radio to the police officers stationed on Main Street and point to vehicles that did not stop while she crossed. I was there for about an hour. I only saw them stop vehicles that didn't allow her to cross.
Earnhardt June 22, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Thats fine too Danielle, at least you saw the other side of it, I did only see her stand at the crosswalk and point at cars. 3 different times. So I guess we each noticed a different scenario, The one I witnessed was in front of citizens park
C.E. Jones June 22, 2012 at 01:39 PM
"Entrapment". Please.... The article stated that the violators were issued WRITTEN WARNINGS which equals NO FINE!
Deb & Dan June 22, 2012 at 01:56 PM
You are not supposed to "walk out". A pedestrian should stand on the sidewalk at the crosswalk. As a life long resident of the area I understand the culture. It has surprised me in my travels that "NOT" jay walking is the norm for most of the country. Again how is simply having to talk to a police officer entrapment. Old New England down towns are crowded and confusing, the problem is most people (drivers & pedestrians) make no effort. I also agree that if you are trying to educate drivers the same officers should educate pedestrians and bike riders. There are two main reasons for so much ignoring the law 1: people have come to expect they will get away with it. 2: Not knowing what the law is.
David Chesler June 22, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I do my best to stop for pedestrians, but if a pedestrian is on the sidewalk they are not in the crosswalk to be yielded to, and for all I know, they're not going to cross. (Same as if there's no crosswalk I remember enough of my Driver's Ed to think "there is a person who might step into traffic" and I notch up my preparedness to stop, but there's no requirement to stop merely because people are somewhere in the vicinity.) What is the rule? At what point is the driver obliged to stop, near side and far side?
Danielle Masterson (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 06:14 PM
I took a look at the Pedestrian Safety pamphlet that was handed out last week and it references MGL Ch 89, S 11. Here is the exact rule, David! :) Section 11. When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be so to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk marked in accordance with standards established by the department of highways if the pedestrian is on that half of the traveled part of the way on which the vehicle is traveling or if the pedestrian approaches from the opposite half of the traveled part of the way to within 10 feet of that half of the traveled part of the way on which said vehicle is traveling. No driver of a vehicle shall pass any other vehicle which has stopped at a marked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross, nor shall any such operator enter a marked crosswalk while a pedestrian is crossing or until there is a sufficient space beyond the crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle he is operating, notwithstanding that a traffic control signal may indicate that vehicles may proceed. Whoever violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $200.
David Chesler June 22, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Thanks for the research, Danielle. I don't know what the decoy did, but it seems clear the pedestrian has to be in the crosswalk. On the sidewalk looking across the street isn't in the crosswalk. It's not clear what it means to yield to the pedestrian. If the pedestrian can continue unimpeded (because you're driving in the left lane and will be well out of the crosswalk before the pedestrian gets there) it's not obvious that you have failed to yield. This is in comparison to the clear rule, that if another driver has stopped to let the pedestrian cross, you may not enter the crosswalk. (All the other things in that paragraph seem to be conditional on another vehicle has already stopped.) IIRC in Massachusetts crosswalks are made of paint. In NY they are made of imaginary lines extending sidewalks, whether or not they are marked. But contrary to the pamplet, I don't think it's illegal to walk across a road when there isn't a marked crosswalk. Sometimes there is none. PetPeeve -- pedestrians who cross when it says Do Not Walk. Contrary to the statement in the pamphlet, if there is a green light, especially a green turn arrow, and a Do Not Walk, the driver, not the pedestrian, has the right of way.
Earnhardt June 22, 2012 at 09:47 PM
C.E> it doesnt matter the NEXT time it will be tickets, If the person is not crossing and they stop you its ENTRAPMENT! how can you stop for someone standing on the sidewalk at the cross walk? what if they are just looking at the flag on the common? or deciding where to get lunch? Then the traffic would be ata standstill until they decide what to do? Sorry A hired hand just standing there pointing out cars is ENTRAPMENT! Im all for yeilding to pedestrians, Its the law and its the right thing to do. But Come on! Cross or stand away fron the sidewalk entrance to the crosswalk. No fines THIS TIME! next time they pull this stunt, it could be BIG fines,Think about it.
Earnhardt June 22, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Oh, And Thanks Danielle! :)
C.E. Jones June 24, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Yes, I am well versed in the Massachusetts X-Walk law, thank you. Nobody said nothing about a pedestrian just standing ON the sidewalk at the cross walk. If that is the case, then that's no good. Period. Moving on, I observed the photos that went along with the article and I must say the crosswalk in the photo needs some attention in terms of a new paint job/repair etc. What a disgrace especially since Woburn has done a pretty good job thus far with attempts to revitalize the center.
John Galipeau June 25, 2012 at 12:22 AM
I have no problem paying a $200 fine if I drive through a crosswalk in which a pedestrian is crossing. I fully expect the WPD to fine jay-walkers though. There are crosswalks at no less than 100 feet throughout the downtown Woburn area--there is no reason for pedestrians to just cross wherever it is convenient. We need to educate the pedestrian as much as the driver.
David Chesler June 25, 2012 at 02:32 AM
What type of crossing is jay-walking in Massachusetts? Agreed with C.E.Jones about the markings at the pictured crosswalk.
ROC June 26, 2012 at 08:18 PM
First off Earnhardt, if you had the time to stand and watch this, I'm jealous of you. Second, your saying to just start walking and get drilled by a car? Do you always just start walking on your way when YOU cross a street? Bet not. You should appreciate this act of making the city a safer place. Remember those things called traffic laws?
ROC June 26, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Earnhardt, nobody that I know ever stands a stares at a flag or chooses where to eat while standing in a crosswalk, let's be real. By the way, there is no need to blame the "hired hand", that's a low blow to them and is not necessary. Realize the big picture here and realize it is for YOUR help too.
David Chesler June 26, 2012 at 09:15 PM
ROC, I think the issue is pedestrians standing ON the sidewalk, NEAR and FACING but not IN the crosswalk. But re-reading the story, it's not clear if anyone was warned for not stopping for a pedestrian on the sidewalk who might have been about to step into the crosswalk.
Earnhardt June 26, 2012 at 10:34 PM
ROC. Obviously YOU never drive through the center on a regular basis, people stand where they please looking at all sorts of things. First off re- read my statement. I nere said they were standing IN the crosswalk, only that they stand on the sidewalk AT the crosswalk. When do you stop? Should I stop for every person that stands on the sidewalk at the entrance to the crosswalk? Again, what if they are deciding where to go get lunch? or admiring the common. And as for the Hired Gun, If you were written a ticket on the hearsay of a non- police personnel saying you did not stop in the crosswalk, It would be thrown out in a minute! If a POLICE OFFICIAL did not see you commit the offense it's hearsay. I don't think it was a low blow at all. After all, those of us that have to work for someone are all "Hired Hands" are we not? So you tell me, when should I stop? and if they are merely standing at the entrance admiring whatever, do I wait all day? By your reasoning, if I go, I get a ticket.
Earnhardt June 26, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Oh by the way ROC ever hear of a DAY OFF? ever hear of using that day off to maybe go DOWNTOWN? maybe get a coffee at Moore and Parker and STAND OUTSIDE? I was only there a half hour buddy! Glad your jealous of my DAY OFF!
ROC June 26, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Earnhardt, this obviously hit a nerve with you and it was not my intention, so I apologize. Frankly, I am not wasting my time anymore with this, it should never have made it to this blog to begin with. Lastly, you'll never know who knows what they know in this city.......
Earnhardt June 27, 2012 at 01:22 AM
ROC it didn"t hit a nerve, But next time read the comment before you comment back. Also to make a comment about time on my hands or whatever it was, Well you talk about cheap shots at the hired gun? That was a cheap shot as well, I don" care what people know or don't know I ONLY KNOW WHAT I OBSERVED.


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