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“People don’t stop for pedestrians in crosswalks,” ACC Traffic Engineer Steve Decker said, although in marked crosswalks, pedestrians have the right-of-way. ACC Police run “stings” to catch violators, and “they write a lot of citations” to drivers, Decker told Flagpole. But, many drivers are not used to midblock crosswalks (or don’t know the law), and “that’s what we have to work on: educating a generation.” That’s how long it took to teach people to use seat belts, he said—although some people still don’t, which accounts for most local traffic fatalities when people are thrown from their vehicles.

So far, Decker says, injuries at local crosswalks have been minor: “Close calls, yes—a lot of close calls.” The law requires drivers in all lanes to stop once a pedestrian has entered a marked crosswalk; and they should not resume until he or she has reached the curb. (Pedestrians also have the right-of-way when a car is making a right turn.) New amber strobe lights—like the one marking the crosswalk at The Grit on Prince Avenue—are becoming standard in Athens, Decker says. He plans an education campaign, like the one that’s now underway to make school zones safer, to teach drivers the law about crosswalks.

Too many drivers don’t slow down at school zones, either: ACC Police wrote 8,600 citations last year, “which told me that school zones weren’t safe,” Decker said. “We shouldn’t be writing that many.” Now, with more consistent signs and enforcement, more drivers are slowing down. And to slow down the through traffic that afflicts some neighborhoods, Decker said, radar speed signs work as well as speed humps, and cost less. “Speed humps do work,” he said, “but the problem is the noise factor.”