Since school started, Kenai resident Christine Marquis has been walking with her sixth-grade son to the Kenai Middle School. Recently a passing driver who did not want to yield for her and her son honked and cussed at them.
“I could have reached up and touched his truck,” she said.
Because Marquis lives on the north side of the Kenai Spur Highway, she and her son must cross at the only crosswalk on the Spur, at Tinker Lane.
Marquis said her son is one of at least four students that must cross the highway at the crosswalk to get to and from school. Most worrisome to Marquis is that the students often cross alone in the mornings.
“It scares me to think of about that too,” she said. “It’s frustrating.”
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010 a total of 4,280 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 70,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States.
In 2010 pedestrian deaths accounted for 13 percent of all traffic fatalities, and made up 3 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes.
With Kenai Peninsula Borough Schools in full swing, Kenai Police Sgt. Scott McBride said drivers should watch for children, teens and parents walking to and from schools.
McBride said the Tinker Lane and the Spur is a legal crosswalk for pedestrians.
“The pedestrian has the right of way,” he said. “And the vehicle has to yield to the pedestrian in the cross walk.”
Although McBride said there have been no complaints about the issue, there is a definite need for drivers to be cautious of students this time of year and drive accordingly.
“Watch out for kids,” he said.
He also advised against dressing walkers in blue or black clothing, especially with the looming darkness and winter weather approaching.
“Dress them in light colored clothing, maybe even in reflective gear,” he said.
Soldotna Police Sgt. Duane Kant said officers often patrol school areas in Soldotna and crosswalks would be included in those patrols.
Although Soldotna has few crosswalks that cross the Spur or Sterling highways, Kant said it is important for pedestrians to cross at proper areas.
“Cross (only) at intersections where crosswalks are clearly marked,” he said.
It is also important for those walking to make eye contact with drivers approaching intersections, he said.
“So you can ensure that they see you,” he said.
Marquis said she has had three students use the crosswalk through the years at the Tinker and the Spur to get to school. While she said she wants to see more police patrol the area, she hopes that drivers will pay attention to students crossing.
“It’s been a problem for twenty years,” she said. “My main issue is to bring awareness.”
Reach Sara Hardan at firstname.lastname@example.org.