As the Traffic Enforcement Officer in Bedford, I get a lot of complaints about people not stopping for pedestrians trying to cross the road. I can assure you that when our officers see a violation of the law, they pull the vehicle over and issue citations. The tricky part is, "When they see a violation of the law."
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 89 Section 11 states, "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."
The above statement means that if the pedestrian is not in the crosswalk, the police officer cannot pull a vehicle over that does not stop for the pedestrian. If the pedestrian is standing on the sidewalk and not in the roadway, we cannot pull the vehicle over. I know this may sound like we are splitting hairs, but there is something in the United States of America called the Constitution and there is the 4th Amendment which basically says that we cannot seize (stop) you unless you break a law.
We also get people who try to cross in a cross-walk on a bicycle. If you do not fully get off the bicycle before you try to cross, you are not a pedestrian, you are a bicyclist. If you would like to be considered a pedestrian, you will need to dismount your bicycle and walk your bicycle across the crosswalk.
Please, if we all just show a little courtesy and be mindful of people who are trying to cross the street, it will make everyone's life a little easier. Their's because they will get across the street safely and your's because you will not be pulled over and given a fine or you will not injure or kill someone.
Please drive safely and remember to always buckle-up!
Even though it does not always feel like winter out there, I wanted to take this time to mention some winter safety and weather tips.
The Town of Bedford Traffic Rules and Regulations states the following about overnight parking on a public way, "It shall be unlawful for the driver of any vehicle, other than in an emergency, to park said vehicle on any street or any municipal off-street parking area between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. of any day." Even though you cannot overnight park on the street any time of year we want to remind residents that during the winter it is especially important not to because it can hinder snow removal efforts by our DPW. We will be out enforcing this and issuing tickets to violators.
While we are talking about snow removal, please remember that the DPW is very busy during snow storms. While they try to get out and plow the sidewalks in town, it may take several days for them to get to all of them. For the safety of everyone, homeowners and business owners should clear the sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses. Also regarding snow please drive with caution as the snow banks reduce driver and pedestrian visibility. School children walking to the bus stops are almost impossible to see behind a high snow bank.
We know everyone is in a hurry in the morning but please remember to clear all your car windows of any snow and frost. It is very dangerous to drive if you cannot see out all of your windows. Start your vehicle and let the defrosters do their thing or scrape and clear the snow manually. Remember there is a lot going on outside your windows and if you cannot see clearly, you may just hit something or miss that red light.
Please use common sense this winter when driving and remember to always buckle-up.
Why not? Seatbelts reduce your risk of death or serious injury in a motor vehicle crash by up to 50%. They also save more than 11,000 lives each year. Every 14 seconds someone in America is injured in a traffic crash and every 13 minutes someone is killed. Right after your vehicle rapidly comes to a stop, unbelted occupants slam into the steering wheel, windshield, or other parts of the vehicle’s interior. Seatbelts also provide the greatest protection against being ejected from a vehicle. Ejection from a vehicle is one of the most injurious events that can happen to a person in a crash. Three-quarters of the occupants who are ejected from a vehicle are killed.
Some people think because their car is equipped with air bags, they do not need to wear a seatbelt. Did you know that air bags are designed to be used with seat belts? By themselves, they are only 12% effective at reducing deaths. In most vehicles, air bags are only in the front and inflate only in frontal crashes. In rear or side crashes and rollovers, the seatbelt can save you from serious injury or death. Some air bags deploy at over 150mph. If you are not belted in, you could be too close to the bag when it deploys and can be seriously injured or killed.
So, what’s the correct way to wear a seatbelt? You should adjust the lap belt to fit low and tight across your hips/pelvis, not your stomach area. Place the shoulder belt snug across your chest, away from your neck. Most vehicles now come with adjustable anchor points to get a nice comfortable fit. Never place the shoulder belt Behind your back or under your arm. This is very dangerous and may cause additional serious injury.
Whatever you do, just remember Click It or Ticket.
If you are traveling around Bedford, you may notice two new additions to the Traffic Enforcement arsenal. Two new compact "Speed Signs". These are small units that show a passing vehicle's speed on an LED display. The goal of these devices is to notify the vehicle's operator of just how fast they are traveling. These days it seems that operators are more interested in what is on the radio or the conversation on their cell phone and are not paying attention to their speed.
The Bedford Police Department has been using portable speed trailers for the past twelve years. They served their purpose in the early years, however, they have needed costly repairs recently and were so big that they could not always be placed where they were needed most.
We have traded in our two older speed trailers for more compact units that can be placed on sign posts and telephone poles. They are much smaller and are easier to set-up and move. These units can be programmed and controlled from the internet and data can be downloaded instantaneously from anywhere. If someone tries to steal or tamper with the units, a high resolution photo is taken with the onboard camera and is immediately sent via email and text to the Traffic Enforcement Officer. They are also tracked using an internal GPS.
The Bedford Police Department is now taking requests for these speed signs to be placed in certain neighborhoods. The requests will be addressed on a first come/first served basis, however, we will look at the practicality and need of the location before they are deployed. You can email us your request to email@example.com. Please include your name, address and phone number in the email. You can also request the signs at our new website at www.bedfordpd.org on the Traffic Enforcement page.
Please drive like you would in your neighborhood and remember to always buckle up.
The Bedford Police Department is starting a new blog. It will be posted here on our website and also on the Bedford Minuteman's website. We hope to bring you useful information as well as news about upcoming programs and events happening at the Bedford Police Department and around the Town of Bedford. Please check back often so you don't miss anything.