Safe Routes Scoop

New Law: Stop and Stay
Stopped for Pedestrians

 

highway have equal and reciprocal rights and duties on public highways.  This has meant that, as a matter of law, pedestrians have equal rights with vehicles to use and occupy public roadways, but from the practical standpoint, the pedestrian has obviously not been in position to assert this equal right and has suffered in consequence." (Report of the New Jersey State Traffic Commission January 1928, 15).   

 

The drafters of the new “Stop for Pedestrians” law believed protection of the pedestrian in the crosswalk needed reinforcement beyond the pre-existing1951 legislation that was enacted when widespread auto ownership began. The old law required motorists to “yield” to pedestrians in the crosswalk. The new law follows precedents enacted in Washington State and Oregon that require motorists “to stop and remain stopped” for lawfully crossing pedestrians. The drafters were concerned that many motorists in New Jersey, rather than yielding, have often proceeded through the crosswalk, ignoring pedestrians who are attempting to cross within their rights, thereby intimidating or confusing pedestrians and creating the potential for serious auto-pedestrian collisions.

 

To underscore the new emphasis on the motorist’s duties to the pedestrian in the crosswalk, the penalties for a motorist who violates the new law have been increased to a

$200 fine, plus court costs, and two points on the motorist’s driver license. Motorists convicted of this offense can also be subject to as many as 15 days of community service and insurance surcharges. Pedestrians also risk $54 fines and community service if they fail to yield the right-of-way to motorists anywhere except at crosswalks. In civil actions involving motorist-pedestrian collisions in a crosswalk, the new law creates a “permissive inference” that the driver did not exercise due care for the safety of the pedestrian. 

 

Advocates of the new law had also been concerned about balancing pedestrian protections with the motorist’s right to proceed when pedestrians are no longer in harm’s way.  To provide balance and ensure reasonable traffic flow, the statute permits the motorist to proceed in those cases “when the pedestrian is [not] upon, or within one lane of, the half of the roadway, upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.” “Half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes conveying traffic in one direction of travel.  This exception is most evident at wider intersections of four, five or more lanes.  As one can see in the graphic below, depicting a pedestrian in different locations of a crosswalk within a five lane intersection,  motorists are permitted to proceed when the pedestrian is no longer potentially in harm’s  way, i.e., more than one lane from the half of the

1 2 3 4
Front Page Feel free to forward this newsletter to other interested parties.