Police stage crosswalk sting
Operation netted 34 tickets

NORCROSS - On average, drivers in walkable downtown Norcross violated crosswalk rules every third minute Thursday.

Some claimed ignorance, others haste. All left with an approximate $200 fine.

On the heels of numerous complaints from pedestrians and downtown business owners, Norcross police choreographed their first "crosswalk crackdown" in two years during Thursday's lunch rush. Plainclothes officers crossed South Peachtree and Jones streets, while their uniformed brethren motioned too-close violators to the curb.

Police issued tickets for 30 crosswalk violations and four failures to hit the breaks at stop signs. They arrested one young man for allegedly driving a Grand Cherokee without a license.

The number of violations dropped significantly from the previous sting, which was news police welcomed with open arms, said Norcross police Lt. Jeff Thornton.

"That's actually the goal," he said.

Michael Orta, program manager for Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety, said four pedestrians are hit every day by metro Atlanta drivers. Georgia law requires drivers to completely stop for people in crosswalks, even when the walkers are on the other side of the street.

"If they change their mind, decided to come back the other way - it's your fault" if they're hit, Thornton said.

Thornton said the city's last pedestrian fatality came in March, when the victim tried to cross Buford Highway without using a crosswalk.

It's worth noting, said Thornton, that the blame for fatal collisions doesn't fall completely on drivers.

"It's just as important for pedestrians to use crosswalks as it is for drivers to yield," he said.

Last week, a woman trying to cross five lanes of Jimmy Carter Boulevard was struck and killed in rush-hour traffic, according to Gwinnett police. That agency led a similar sting near Norcross last year that netted 80 crosswalk violators in a single morning.