Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"
Q. So this morning, November 2, the political sign enthusiasts were even more annoying than usual-they were crowded into the middle area between the inbound and outbound lanes (on the McDonald's side of the intersection, rather than the Canton House side of the intersection) of Egan at McNugget intersection. There is no area for pedestrians in that spot and I found it incredibly distracting as a driver and incredibly stupid on the signholders' behalf. What are the rules associated with the political signholders and public roadways?
Dear Juneau Resident,
JPD did have an officer out with those in the median on the morning of 11-2-10. That area is clearly inappropriate for pedestrians and extremely dangerous since a distracted driver could hit someone who has no protection from a car and no time to react given the close proximity. Those political enthusiasts were asked to move to sidewalk and island areas where pedestrians are accommodated.
As you can imagine, JPD is concerned about the safety of those holding signs and drivers who might be distracted. However, no one here wants to impede someone exercising freedom of speech by publicly supporting a candidate or position on an issue.
Generally, law enforcement is going to lean toward getting people to move to a safe(r) area rather than taking enforcement action. This is a delicate area of balancing the rights of drivers and the rights of those assembling for political reasons. Both parties are very important.
On 11-2-10, we did get three motor vehicle collisions at the McNugget intersection around 5:30 in the evening. In reviewing the reports there was not a claim from drivers that they were distracted by sign holders. Even if that claim had come in, drivers are still the person primarily responsible for operating vehicles safely even when there are distractions.