Senior pedestrians are in danger at crosswalks

To the editor,

Senior citizens are at particular risk from reckless drivers turning left from Idaho Street when the seniors are crossing Fort Hall Avenue at the light in the crosswalk. The Senior Citizens Center sits on the southwest corner of the intersection. This is one of our busiest intersections. My 89 year old father, Joe, was almost hit as we walked in the crosswalk last week at this particular intersection.

Those of you who have spent any time recently talking to Joe would know that at his next birthday, he will be 90. And if you know my parents, Sylvia and Joe, you also know that at least in the past, they walked everywhere. The home my parents bought is strategically placed in American Falls. We can reach “all destinations” by walking. Their home is 2 to 4 blocks from: the church, the post office, the bank, the grocery store, the drug store, the library, the courthouse, the hospital and the Senior Citizens Center.

Lately though, Sylvia cannot walk as far, and Joe, in his own words, is “wobbly.” When he is crossing the street he will look both ways and then run across the street with his head down like “a bull out of the gate.” He sometimes will not wait for the corner, but will dash across the middle of the street. This has made me nervous and, yes, I have taken to walking with him to all our destinations. Last week we took such a walk to the bank.

The bank is on the other side of the street. We were walking between 3 and 3:30 p.m., right when school is out and parents are driving to pick their kids up. The traffic was almost bumper to bumper. Though Joe protested, I insisted that we walk to the crosswalk with the traffic light to cross over.

We reached the corner and following the crossing guard light, we stepped into the street by the Senior Citizens Center, got two feet out, when a reckless driver careened in front of us, barely missing us. This unfortunately is the third time that this has happened to us in one and a half years. The driver frowned at us and floored it. If my dad had decided to do “the bull run” at that point, he would not have made it to his 90th birthday.

When I took driver’s ed in American Falls H.S., at our first day Mr. Bell told us over and over, “the pedestrian has the right of way.” The pedestrian has the right of way even if you are taking a left or a right in the crosswalk that they are walking in. I spoke to the American Falls Police Department. They will issue tickets when people do not yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Seniors may be slow, may be wobbly, and may not check as thoroughly for reckless drivers. Drivers need to be on the lookout, whether seniors are in a crosswalk or walking where there is no crosswalk. Pedestrians have the right of way. Thank you for stopping, looking and allowing them to cross unharmed. We want Joe to make it to his 90th birthday.

Mary and Diane Pavek

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