Accident underlines crossing rule confusion

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 10:40 16/06/2014

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Footage of a 12-year-old girl being struck by a car on a pedestrian crossing in Blenheim last week has highlighted confusion about crossing rules.

Blenheim man Kevin Wratt, who was driving directly behind the blue sedan that hit Deisha Graham as she crossed on Seymour St about 4.15pm on Wednesday, said the girl "actually caused the accident" when she "streaked across in front" of the vehicle.

But senior constable and school community officer Susan Bush said that because the crossing was a "zebra crossing", the driver of the car had been at fault.

Wratt said the driver had stopped for a pedestrian ahead of Deisha, and began edging forward before she "streaked across in front of him", Wratt said.

"[After the first pedestrian] he quite slowly accelerated and as he accelerated away the girl just hit one of her legs, I think it was her right leg, on the bottom of the front left bumper and that's what flipped her."

The distance she travelled onto the footpath after being hit was a result of the speed Deisha was moving at, rather than the car, Wratt said.

"It's a really good illustration of just how irresponsible pedestrians are around this town."

Bush said the driver should have stopped for the first pedestrian, and remained stopped for Deisha and her half-brother and sister, who were already on the zebra crossing.

She said the video footage seemed to show that the vehicle "had not been stationary at any point".

Bush had just finished producing a pedestrian crossing guide pamphlet, How to Walk the Walk, in conjunction with the Marlborough District Council.

"It's obvious that people are unsure about what to do at the different crossing points [in Marlborough]," she said.

The pamphlet clearly outlined the rules and responsibilities of both drivers and pedestrians when using pedestrian (zebra), courtesy, refuge island, and pedestrian with refuge island crossings, which were all common in Blenheim.

Blenheim driving instructor Heather Richards said she taught her students to be prepared to stop regardless of what type of crossing they were approaching.

"Many people, in my observation of driving round, they are not slowing down as they approach crossings. They have a quick look but people come out of nowhere and then they're in front of you," she said.

She urged drivers to be extra vigilant and drive to the conditions, which could include weather, but also dark clothing warn by pedestrians in the winter, harsh sunlight and road congestion.

"If you don't slow down and have a look, and you hit someone, you know, it's going to be on your conscience forever."

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Tasman police communications manager Barbara Dunn said a man had contacted police on Thursday to say he had been the driver of the car which hit Deisha.

It was too early to know if charges would be laid, she said.

How to Walk the Walk pamphlets can be collected from the Blenheim police station, the council, and Marlborough Roads.

- The Marlborough Express

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