LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Police want drivers and pedestrians to be on high alert as thousands of college students move back to La Crosse for the school year.
The return of students means more walkers and bikers, especially in the West Avenue area.
Light-up crosswalk signs were added at the intersection of West Avenue and Pine Street, and La Crosse police said they make a difference if used correctly.
"We're at certainly one of our busier intersections, and with the university coming back into school, it's only gonna get busier,” Sgt. Tom Walsh said while at West Avenue and Pine, where plenty of students cross.
"I have a lot of friends that live over there, so I go over there a lot,” UW-La Crosse senior Albert Tronnes said.
Walsh wants to make sure walkers and drivers are following the rules.
"It's always better to be safe and alive than dead wrong,” he said.
Walsh said there have been accidents causing injuries and even deaths on the busy avenue, so it's important drivers pay attention and stop for pedestrians if they're actively going into a cross walk.
"What that means is if a person's standing on the curbside and they make eye contact with the driver and want to begin crossing, certainly vehicles need to yield to the right of way to pedestrians that are crossing the road,” he said.
UW-La Crosse junior Matt Schutt said he hasn’t ran into many issues with drivers at the crosswalk,
"but a lot of students or whoever will not use cross walks, so will go … wherever they please,” he said.
"All the time, (I see) groups of people running randomly between the trees there. I definitely notice that,” Tronnes agreed.
Walsh said another big problem for both drivers and walkers is being distracted by cellphones.
He said safety goes both ways, taking the cooperation of both parties.
"I would advise pedestrians to make sure they look left to get the attention of drivers before they go into traffic,” Walsh said. “If they can start working together we can accomplish what we're all looking for, and that's the safety of everyone out here."
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