August 11, 2016
Safe Routes to Schools activates crosswalk lights
MURPHY (August 11, 2016) Motorists who regularly travel along North Murphy Road should, by now, be well-accustomed to the two designated pedestrian crossings specifically designed for the Safe Routes to Schools program.
“They’re hard to miss,” says Police Chief Arthur “Trey” Cotten. “However, what might be unfamiliar is the sequence of flashing and solid lights, and how drivers should respond to specific light displays.”
One light standard is near the intersection of North Murphy Road and Shirehurst Dr., and the other is near the intersection of North Murphy Road and Windsor Dr. The two include clearly-marked stripes to indicate stopping locations.
While they operate in a similar fashion as traditional crosswalk signals, there are some potentially confusing differences. For example, cautionary flashing amber lights will glow when pedestrians initiate the crossing process.
Starting early on school days, students will push the activator button when ready to cross North Murphy Road. That starts the amber lights flashing, sending a warning to drivers that pedestrians are in the area. After a brief period, the lights turn into a solid amber. This means that a stop is now imminent.
In the same fashion as a regular traffic signal, the solid amber becomes a solid red. This is the same as a stop sign or stop light. Motorists must stop and remain stopped. Finally, the lights will flash red. This means the driver should look both ways and proceed with caution if the road is clear.
“Solid red means a full and complete stop, no advancement of any kind,” said the Chief. “Then, and this is another major difference, there is no green light. So, as soon as the red light begins to flash, drivers may proceed cautiously.”
In addition to the lights on the poles, there are indicator lights buried in the roadbed, but these are only to warn drivers to look for the overhead lights. The buried lights do not change color.
The same process occurs after school when students begin their afternoon trips home. The students are, of course, crossing North Murphy Road in the opposite direction than the morning crossings.
While the lights are designed to create a safer crossing experience, drivers and pedestrians, especially students, are still expected to exercise the utmost caution when crossing North Murphy Road.
“Nothing replaces awareness and observation,” said the Chief. “Even the safest drivers can be distracted, and sometimes students are not paying attention to their surroundings. Everyone needs to keep safety in mind.”