Now that school is back in session, some local drivers may need a refresher course in traffic laws regarding pedestrian crosswalks.
One crosswalk in particular has some parents of Orchard Park Elementary School students concerned. Not long after drivers on Sutton Road pass the flashing lights and school speed zone signs, they encounter two crosswalks. One at Market Street and Sutton is well marked and set at a stoplight; The other one crosses Sutton at Fifth Baxter Crossing, and that is where the problem lies, parent Scott Lane said.
"A lot of times you have to wait in the middle and people continue to zip through."
Lane walks his daughter Elizabeth, who is in the first grade at Orchard Park, to school every morning. They usually get to the crosswalk around 7:15, when "traffic is just starting to flow," Lane said.
Making it across the street gets even trickier when daylight-saving time ends the first weekend of November and sunrise comes an hour later.
"The frustrating thing is as you cross Sutton, the crosswalk doesn't have flashing lights," Lane said.
Lane and other parents complained about the situation to the York County Sheriff's Office last school year. Officers responded by monitoring the traffic on the road during January and February, he said.
"I saw [the deputy] one morning and between the time I passed him and was coming back from the school he had ticketed nine people," Lane said. "We're all always in a hurry, but we need to slow down especially in school zones. There are a lot of mothers with very young children that walk their kids to school pushing strollers as well," he added.
The sheriff's office spent the first couple days of school this year monitoring the traffic on Sutton Road as well, Sgt. Chris Blevins said. The sheriff's office had received complaints about people running the red light at Sutton and Market.
"About this time every year, a good portion of schools in the county call us," Blevins said.
"After the first few days the routine starts to work itself out and things get smoother."
Most traffic issues come from elementary schools, he said. Many middle and high schools have police of sheriff's officers assigned as school resource officers and they often help sort out traffic issues around the schools.
Neither state nor local laws apply a more severe penalty for speeding through a school zone, Blevins said. The zones drop the speed limit during certain times of the day, but a ticketed driver faces no stiffer penalty for disregarding the posted limit.
"A lot of times just sitting in a marked car there alleviates a lot of the problem," Blevins said.
What the law says
The South Carolina code of laws section 56-5-3130, titled "Pedestrians' right-of-way in crosswalks," states in subsection a:
"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 to yield to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk..."(the full text of the traffic laws related to pedestrians is available at www.scstatehouse.net/code/ t56c005.htm)