The Missoula Police Department will conduct Pedestrian Crossing Emphasis Patrols beginning this week in an effort to enforce pedestrian crossing laws within the city limits.

Traffic Specialist Sergeant Greg Amundsen said as summer deepens, there are more pedestrians crossings streets in Missoula, and a safety update is necessary.

"There are two things the pedestrian can do," Amundsen said. "The pedestrian can make sure they always cross only in a crosswalk at the end of street where there's an intersection, whether there's a marked crosswalk or not. The second thing is that pedestrians need to wait till it's safe to step off the curb. You do have the right of way, but you do have to yield to vehicles that are close enough that they would be an immediate hazard if you were to step out."

Amundsen said drivers must be extra vigilant with more pedestrians cross streets, especially with school starting at the end of August.

"Drivers should make sure that they're always scanning and making sure they're looking ahead. One of the biggest conflict areas that we have is cars that are making a right turn, maybe on a light, where you can take a free right after a stop. Make sure you look to the right one more time before you go because the pedestrian will begin to cross into traffic, and most people only look left when they're waiting to do that."

Police officers will use both education and enforcement action where appropriate. This effort will continue through the summer and fall, when pedestrian traffic increases throughout Missoula as college students return and public schools begin classes.