Rules of the roads

Officials give tips for pedestrian safety
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
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Summer is upon us and area residents will likely be getting out of the house and on to the streets to exercise. Whether that is in the form of walking, jogging, running or biking, there is a way to stay safe on the roads, local law enforcement officials say.

Being aware of your surroundings and any oncoming traffic is key when traversing local roads as a pedestrian, said Louisiana State Police Troop D Sgt. James Anderson.

“In the last year, Troop D investigated six fatal pedestrian crashes in the area,” Anderson said. “We’ve even seen an increase in crashes involving pedestrians in the last couple of years. Follow the law to keep yourself safe.”

Additionally, Anderson said, walkers and riders should wear bright-colored and reflective clothing to keep themselves visible to motorists especially at night. Bikers specifically are required by the state to have red-colored reflectors on the rear of their bicycles and either white-colored reflectors or a light on the front of bikes when riding at night, Anderson said.

Anderson also warns residents that it is illegal to walk or bike as a pedestrian on state highways and interstates over which state police has domain.

Picking the right location to do your walking or biking is important, said Jennings Police Department Interim Chief Danny Semmes.

“I would recommend when at all possible, you walk and bike only on the sidewalks in residential neighborhoods. That’s what’s safest,” Semmes said.

When sidewalks are unavailable, Semmes suggests avoiding the roadway and walking on the road’s shoulder if it at all possible.

If one does have to traverse major roads that do not have shoulders or sidewalks, Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Chris Ivey recommends residents follow state law on the subject.

“If you’re on a bicycle, you’re required to follow the same traffic laws as a vehicle does,” Ivey said. “You’re supposed to travel with the traffic and you have the same rights that a vehicle does. If they’re stopping at a red light, then you should be too.”

Ivey said though pedestrians should avoid walking on major roads without sidewalks, if unavoidable, there are rules to stay safe.

“If you have to walk on a major road, do so facing the traffic so you can see the cars coming at you,” he said.

For those looking for a safe alternative to walking and running on area streets, residents can travel to the Louisiana Oil and Gas Park to exercise on the trail there. The trail measures six-tenths of a mile and is open from sunrise to sunset daily. However, the trail is closed to bikers, said Jeff Davis Parish Tourist Commission Communications Coordinator Jamie Lee.

“Anyone can come in and walk here at any time,” Lee said. “We have walkers who come to enjoy the sunrise in the morning and those who like to come in the evening when it’s cooler.”