Official Minute: MPD chief offers tips for a safe summer
Thank you for this opportunity to reach out to the community and discuss items of interest!
I would like to discuss the high points of summer safety concerns. There is so much more going on in the summer months and so many more people are around during all hours, that the potential for accidents and unfortunate events is higher.
Obviously the warmer conditions make pedestrian use of our public ways more common. Whether it is the chosen form of transportation or for exercise purposes, we all see much more pedestrian traffic in the summer months. Now I could get into the legal technicalities of how crosswalks function, but I won’t. I will simply ask you to help get pedestrians safely across the road. Isn’t that the goal anyway? If it appears a pedestrian(s) is looking to cross at a crosswalk, you are required to stop your vehicle and allow them to cross if you are reasonably able to do so. That is the law and if we observe a violation, we will write that citation. Pedestrians should equally do their part by being visible to the motoring public. Demonstrate your intent to cross the road by standing in the landing portion of the crosswalk and face the direction you wish to go. Regardless of driver violations, do not take unnecessary risks to prove a point. The vehicle will most surely win that battle even if you are lawfully possessing the right of way.
Much like pedestrians, bicyclists are ever more present during the summer months. Bicyclists are bound by the same rules of the road as vehicles. They must operate to the right shoulder of the road, must signal their turns, and must have proper lighting at night within the City limits. The challenge for drivers is to be aware of them on the road you share. Give bicyclist a wide berth when possible. Pass them at slow speeds when you must pass them. Use your brake lights to signal that bicyclists are present to those drivers following you. We can all do a lot to help increase their safety on the roadways.
It is most certainly construction season and while that can create inconveniences, it can also create safety hazards to those working to improve our public ways. To be blunt, most of those hazards are caused by people who have made the selfish decision to serve themselves over the safety of others. Speed is almost always reduced in a construction zone. If it isn’t you should be doing that on your own! Move over to give workers as wide of a berth as you can give them while still operating lawfully. As a driver, mind your roadway and not the construction that is happening. Stay off of your phone and avoid other distractions. All of these things contribute to work zone hazards. If Law Enforcement has to correct them, the penalties are as stiff as they come. Work Zone fines are minimally double that of normal traffic fines. Additionally, crashes involving highway workers often lead to criminal charges. It’s just not worth it.
Your local Police Department will be out monitoring these issues as best as we can but we need your help to actually improve safety in our wonderful city. Please do your part in making Merrill as safe of a City to live in as possible. Always, if you have any questions, feel free to give us a call. If we do not know the answer we will do our best to find it for you.
Corey Bennett, City of Merrill Chief of Police
The Official Minute is a new weekly digital feature consisting of columns written and submitted by local officials, on news and happenings from within their respective departments and agencies, as well as tips and key information pertinent to keep the public informed. We would like to thank the following participants; Merrill Police Chief Corey Bennett, Southern Lincoln County DNR Conservation Warden Curt Butler, Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson, Lincoln County Clerk Chris Marlowe, Merrill Area Housing Authority Executive Director Paul Russell, Merrill Area Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John Sample and Lincoln County Sheriff Ken Schneider.