Pedestrian in the crosswalk? NJ drivers could care less about them and the law
There's a entire section of the New Jersey Driver Manual that some drivers seem to have ignored. It's called, "Sharing the Road with Others."
According to the manual, 143 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in New Jersey in 2011. Statistics recently released for 2012 show 165 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents. The chance of a pedestrian being killed when hit by a car is 85 percent when the car is travelling at a speed higher than 40 miles per hour.
In 2010, a law (32.4-36) went into effect requiring motorists to stop when a pedestrian is at a marked crosswalk. The year before that law was passed, 157 pedestrians were killed, showing the law hasn't made much of a difference.
In this video provided by the State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety and developed by Municipal Exchange Liability Joint Insurance Fund, crossing guards report of incidents with drivers in which drivers go so far as yell at them for stopping traffic to cross children.
The law states that motorists who see a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk must stop and remain stopped until the person reaches the other side of the road. Drivers should also give pedestrians crossing at unmarked crosswalks at intersections the right-of-way.
This does not mean pedestrians can just walk out into traffic whenever they want to. In fact, when a crosswalk has an officer/crossing guard or a traffic signal, the pedestrian must wait until they are signaled to cross by the officer or the light.
However, when pedestrians are not at a crosswalk or intersection, it is the motorists who have the right-of-way.
Any driver who is caught violating this law will be fined $200, and could be sentenced to 15 days of community service. A two point penalty will also be placed on the driver's license.
If a pedestrian is injured by a driver's carelessness to follow this law, the fine could be as much as $500, and the motorist could face up to 25 days in jail and a six month suspension of his license.
Pedestrians who don't follow their end of this law will be fined $54. Children (younger than 17) who don't follow the law will be fined $22.
How to be safe
To avoid an accident, drivers are reminded by the driver manual to "always watch for pedestrians," and to "be extra careful around intersections." They are also told to watch for pedestrians when turning.
There is almost always a yellow crossing sign leading up to a crosswalk without a traffic signal. Use this sign as just what it is- a warning- and start to slow down and be on the lookout for pedestrians.
Pedestrians can do their part by following the rule they probably learned in Kindergarten: look left, right, then left again before crossing. While crossing, pedestrians should not let their guard down and stay alert and aware of what the cars are doing around them.
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