By Chief Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley Police Department
With the warmer weather coming soon (hopefully), many people will be using the roadways for a variety of activities. When pedestrians, cars, and bicycles share the road, accidents can result if safety rules are not followed. One question I receive quite often pertains to people walking side by side while vehicles are approaching. Many people do not move to a “single file” arrangement during this time. This can be very dangerous. I was asked to warn people of this practice and remind them of the rules for pedestrian’s use of the roadways.
The rules for use of streets are contained in both state laws and local regulations. If sidewalks are in place on a particular street, they should be used. If there are no sidewalks, people should walk along the shoulder of the roadway facing into traffic. You will most likely see a vehicle heading toward you if walking in this fashion. Unless the shoulders of the road are particularly wide, there is little to no room for people to walk side by side without one person being on the roadway. The accident possibilities increase, especially when solar glare, inclement weather, darkness, or other factors reduce a driver’s visibility. All precautions should be taken to stay off the roadway whenever possible. When you wish to cross the road, do this at crosswalks when they are available. If there are no crosswalks, pedestrians should yield the right of way to vehicles before crossing and avoid "jumping out" into traffic. The excuse of “pedestrians have the right of way” is used often to explain why people walk side by side in roadways or dart across a road in front of vehicles. This is never the correct way to think when it comes to pedestrian vs. vehicle situations.
Many side streets, dead ends, or other lightly traveled locations may have people using a more relaxed approach to these rules. Do not ignore the basic safety rules of looking both ways and always pay attention to the possibility of cars. Vehicles may come from anywhere, so it is always important to treat these locations with the proper amount of caution. Sharing the road and respecting each others use of it will limit accidents and injuries.
On Saturday, April 27th, the Dudley Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will conduct another prescription drug “Take Back” event. The public has the opportunity to safely dispose of expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous. During our previous events, large quantities of prescription medications were taken in. Plans are also underway to have representatives of Harrington Hospital on hand that day to provide medical information and screenings to the public. A needle drop box is also planned to be available for those who need to safely dispose of these items. More information will be available in the near future. Several communities in our area will also be participating in this event. If you are not from Dudley, check for a participating location near you. I encourage everyone to mark their calendars and take advantage of this opportunity.
Thanks again for your questions and comments. Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St., Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at
. Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.