Macungie resident Bill Reiss asked for a clarification of the borough's at the Oct. 17 council meeting.
He was unclear about when a vehicle is to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, he said.
Mayor Rick Hoffman said at the Oct. 3 council meeting that he will enforce the crosswalk laws, making it safer for pedestrians to cross roads. Reiss questioned what to do when people stand at or near the crosswalk but are not in it.
“Must the pedestrian be in the crosswalk in order for the driver to stop or do they just have to be standing in front of the crosswalk?” he asked. “Will someone get a ticket because somebody is standing on the curb?"
Police Chief Ed Harry then took the podium to answer Reiss’s questions. He proceeded to read to read Section 3542 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, which he said, “has a ‘Catch-22’ when it involves pedestrians in a crosswalk.”
The code reads as follows:
Section 3542. Right-of-way of pedestrians in crosswalks.
(a) General rule.—When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
(b) Exercise of care by pedestrian.—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 as to constitute a hazard.
“Basically, what that means is—under subsection (a), there’s a pedestrian in the crosswalk, not at the curb—they have to be in the crosswalk. You are to yield the right-of-way to that pedestrian,” said Harry.
“The flip-side of that is, subsection (b) says the pedestrian isn’t allowed to step off the curb and into the crosswalk if there is a vehicle so close as to constitute a hazard.
“The problem we run into is if I stop someone for not yielding to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, the argument would be that if the driver had to stop to avoid hitting the pedestrian, then that means they stepped into the crosswalk when the driver was close enough to constitute a hazard,” Harry continued.
It is a discretionary call, and sometimes a tough call, he said. The police have given warnings to most drivers, but have also issued citations to several others for failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
Harry said he has seen pedestrians just step off the curb and start crossing the street, assuming the cars will stop for them.
“Pedestrians need to understand that they can’t do that either,” he said.