Fewer drivers are yielding to pedestrians in Springfield after crosswalk enforcement ended in fall

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 11:03 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - There is a big push to increase crosswalk safety in Springfield right now. City leaders say fewer drivers are yielding to pedestrians.

The city kicked off its “SGF Yields” initiative in 2017.

“Since 2017, our engineering team has been conducting compliance studies where we stage as pedestrians crossing the road, and measure how many people yield versus not yield,” said Mandy Buettgen-Quinn, a Traffic Safety Specialist for the City of Springfield.

Those efforts found drivers only yielded to pedestrians 25% of the time. Some intersections, like Grant and Calhoun, were far worse. Buettgen-Quinn said drivers only yielded to pedestrians about 4% of the time at that intersection.

“That’s when we started to implement some engineering measures there and we deployed the rectangular rapid flashing beacons,” Buettgen-Quinn described. “Those pedestrian beacons allow students to activate the flash, and then drivers have a notice to stop even at higher speeds. At those locations we’re now measuring 80% or more. So that is really exciting.”

Springfield city leaders say quite a bit of progress was made after the initiative began. The campaign even added weekly crosswalk enforcement at the start of 2021.

“The yield checks across our crosswalks did have an impact on drivers,” Buettgen-Quinn said. “More and more people were yielding at that time.”

The crosswalk checks ended last fall, and now the city says the number of yielding drivers has gone down once again.

“The enforcement definitely had a positive impact,” Buettgen-Quinn said. “We were hoping that the numbers would stay higher, because once people get used to yielding and recognize that this right, that’s the right thing to do. We were hoping those numbers would stay high.”

Buettgen-Quinn said driver compliance at crosswalks reached 63% after enforcement checks took place, but now they have dipped back down again. The city reported 48% compliance in the fourth quarter of 2021 and 47% compliance in the first quarter of 2022.

SGF Yields data chart
SGF Yields data chart(Buettgen, Mandy | City of Springfield)

Speeding cars has become a major concern for some bikers, walkers, and runners.

”You just never want to assume a driver sees you,” said Springfield resident Sharon Gullett Taylor. “You want to make eye contact before you do proceed across the street. A lot of times you can’t tell how fast these cars are going. So make sure you have like a really, really wide gap before you enter the crosswalk or intersection.”

She said Glenstone and Grand has been on her mind lately, after one pedestrian was hit and killed by a car just last week.

“That intersection is not marked,” she said. “There are no crosswalks. There’s no pedestrian heads.”

Springfield Police had a grant that allowed overtime officers to focus on crosswalk safety. Now the city says the department has applied for a second round of funding that would allow overtime officers to conduct those crosswalk checks once again.

Buettgen-Quinn said she is hopeful the city can resume those crosswalk checks.

“It’s about getting drivers attention and educating them on what the crosswalk laws are,” she said.

The city reports that sixty pedestrians got hit by cars in 2021. Data shows drivers and pedestrians shared about half the blame for those incidents.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

Copyright 2022 KY3. All rights reserved.