SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– A Middle School student in Springfield narrowly avoided being hit by a car Monday morning and it’s calling attention to the importance of drivers obeying the crosswalk rules of the road.

The Forest Park Middle School student was crossing Sumner Avenue at the Oakland Street intersection when a driver heading west refused to grant the teenager the right of way within the crosswalk. A witness watched as the car missed the teenager by inches.

“We need drivers first to be defensive behind the wheel, especially with schools going in and out of session,” said Springfield Police spokesperson Ryan Walsh. “Whether they have the right of way or not, pedestrians need to pay attention too. You almost have to use the assumption drivers aren’t looking at you, and don’t see you, even if they made eye contact or what ever it may be you need to be defensive to go around the street.”

The double white line at school crossings is meant to draw attention to the crosswalk, protecting pedestrians who might be crossing against the light. Springfield’s Department of Public Works makes certain the double lines are always visible to drivers.

“Every summer, we do all the school’s crosswalks, before the school begins again. So at least once a year we do the crosswalks for school zones,” said Vinnie DeSantis, Deputy Superintendent of the Springfield DPW.

According to Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) data there have been 496 reported pedestrian crashes so far in 2022. Massachusetts General Law outlines a driver’s responsibility:

  • When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be so to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk marked in accordance with standards established by the department of highways if the pedestrian is on that half of the traveled part of the way on which the vehicle is traveling or if the pedestrian approaches from the opposite half of the traveled part of the way to within 10 feet of that half of the traveled part of the way on which said vehicle is traveling.
  • No driver of a vehicle shall pass any other vehicle which has stopped at a marked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross, nor shall any such operator enter a marked crosswalk while a pedestrian is crossing or until there is a sufficient space beyond the crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle he is operating, notwithstanding that a traffic control signal may indicate that vehicles may proceed.