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Bethlehem police remind drivers to yield to pedestrians

Drivers busted in sting operation in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Police in Bethlehem pulled over more than a dozen drivers who failed to yield to pedestrians Wednesday.

It was all part of a sting operation to make city crosswalks and streets safer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an American dies every two hours in an auto-pedestrian accident.

"Pedestrians need to be mindful to look right and left and to not step out into oncoming traffic," said Sherri Penchishen, with the Bethlehem Health Bureau.

Pennsylvania law requires pedestrians to cross at crosswalks, if there is one.

Pedestrians should also never cross in the middle of a block, according to police.

But experts claim distracted and unaware drivers are also partially to blame.

"They tend to not pay attention to all of the details out on the roadway," Penchishen said.

"We've seen them cut pedestrians off," said Lt. Jeremy Alleshouse, with the Bethlehem Police Department.

The Northampton County Safety Highway Program, City of Bethlehem,  PennDOT, and Lehigh Valley Health Network coordinated Wednesday's sting.

Designated walkers spent the morning crossing North New and Fairview Streets in Bethlehem.

Police immediately pulled over drivers who failed to stop or yield and gave them warnings or citations.

"The reactions I've seen, a lot of them didn't know that was the law…If pedestrians are in the crosswalk, it's up to them to slow down." said Lt. Alleshouse.

According to Alleshouse, a citation for failing to yield to a pedestrian comes with a $50 fine, but could end up being more with court costs. 

Alleshouse said it could also cost drivers points on their license.

Those involved said the program is part of a mission to make drivers more aware.

"Just reminding everyone motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians share the roadway," Penchishen said. 

"We're hoping that awareness is raised, and in future when they see someone in crosswalk they will yield to them," said Bill McQuilken, with the Lehigh Valley Health Network Trauma Center.   

Police said additional pedestrian stings are scheduled for other intersections.

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