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Police across the country frequently conduct “sting operations,” where they ticket drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

Understandably, this angers drivers who face large tickets. But does it actually do anything to promote safety for pedestrians?

Drivers who had recently received tickets were asked about their experience after a Fort Lee, New Jersey, sting operation – one planned by police after 68 people were hit by cars there. Many drivers claimed that they did not see the officers in the crosswalk. Others tried to blame the pedestrians themselves. Some even thought that the pedestrians should be ticketed for stepping into traffic and putting the cars at risk of being rear-ended by other vehicles.

They might make drivers angry, but a study of these pedestrian “sting operations” found that they can help increase awareness of pedestrians, and cause drivers to yield to pedestrians more often. Additionally, the positive results lasted much longer than anticipated, in some places for over a year with very minimal enforcement.

While drivers might not like the occasional sting operations, the long-term public safety impact seems to be worth the inconvenience of an occasional ticket.

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