Drivers: Make Full Stop For Pedestrians Or Face Hefty Fines

pedestrain crossing sign hershel frank work reinmanThe last time the state updated its traffic laws regarding pedestrians, cars still had fins and drivers didn’t have cell phones to take their eyes away from the road. Fast-forward nearly 50 years, and the nation’s most congested state has the highest pedestrian fatality rate in the country, a fact that persuaded officials to toughen laws governing the often-dicey interactions between motorists and pedestrians in crosswalks. The goal, they said, was to change the culture of driving in a state long known for the incivility of its motorists.

“We needed to update the statutes,” Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer said today at a news conference at the Prudential Arena. “The old statutes hadn’t kept pace with the times in New Jersey.”

The new laws take effect in April and will affect motorists and pedestrians. Motorists, previously required to yield to pedestrians, will have to come to full stops and remain stopped or risk $200 tickets (double the current fine) and two points on their licenses.

Pedestrians can be fined $54 for not obeying traffic signals.

Between 20 percent and 25 percent of auto-related fatalities in New Jersey since 2004 have involved pedestrians, the highest rate in the country and more than twice the national average, Attorney General Paula Dow said. About 150 pedestrians have died each year over that span, she said.

“This is simply too high,” said Dow, who equated the confrontation between car and pedestrian to a game of chicken. “It’s not enough simply to slow down or hope the pedestrian stops for the vehicle.”

Solomon Anaya, a transplanted Californian who lives in Newark, said he has been unpleasantly surprised by New Jersey motorists’ apparent disdain for crosswalk etiquette, particularly in front of his business on Market Street, which features a crosswalk and flashing yellow lights.

“I’m in the middle of the crosswalk, and people just come flying by,” he said. “There are people walking all the time, and nobody stops.”

Part of the impetus for the new laws came from Paul Feldman, a Pennsylvania resident whose 21-year-old daughter, Casey Feldman, was killed while crossing a street in Ocean City last year.

Feldman said the driver was distracted when he hit Casey in broad daylight in the middle of a crosswalk at a four-way stop sign. The driver won’t face homicide charges under New Jersey law because it was concluded he didn’t act recklessly, Feldman said, but will have to live with the result of his actions.

“Which side of that story does anyone want to own?” Feldman asked today. Star Ledger.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Finally a welcome law in N.J. i hope its really enforced in lakewood, in the past i tried to stop for people in the crosswalk only to have someone pass me on the right and nearly killing the person in the crosswalk i stopped for, since then i’ve been forced not to stop, hopefully now people will learn the new law

  2. Something that should be pointed out that this article didn’t make clear is that that the law also states that pedestrains must cross at crosswalks. In New Jersey a crosswalk is any marked area in a roadway or it can be an unmarked area but only when at an intersection. So everyone on Forest Ave or anywhere else for that matter that crosses mid-block is subject to fine as that is not a crosswalk. Further, pedestrians who cross at a crosswalk in an unsafe manner; E.G. when a car is coming and cannot make a safe stop to allow you to cross, are subject to fine. Certainly this update to the previous law is welcome as it is aimed at protecting pedestrians however, it is just as much on pedestrians to protect themselves. Walking out into RT9 when traffic is coming down the road one block away is not inteligent yet it happens all the time. It is not reasonable to expect that if i’m heading south on RT9 and i’m at 6th Street and you walk out into the roadway at 5th that I will stop. I probably couldn’t even stop in time; if I can it may not be possible in a safe manner so as not to cause a MVA. So is this a good update to a law on the books, yes, but pedestrians and motorists must use common sense for it to make an impact.

    On another note I have seen a dramatic downturn in the use of reflective belts and clothing by pedestrians walking at night. It wasn’t too long ago that a young man lost his life crossing the street at night. Had he been wearing a reflective belt maybe he would still be with us. The ability of a driver to see you at night when you are wearing dark colored clothing is dramatically increased with a belt. Wearing a belt makes the distance your seen at go from maybe 20ft away to 200ft away if not more! It is not fair on drivers for you not to take some logical precautions for your safety. Anytime I walk in a roadway at night even in a well lit area I try to have something reflective on. Sometimes I will even walk with my cellphones screenlight turned on in my hand facing behind me for more protection against being unintentionally struck. It’s not unreasonable and even if one person in a group has one on it helps because now the driver is more alert and may take extra precaution like slowing down or moving further to the left or right so not to hit anyone.

  3. I was once crossing Madison Ave. from Rabbi Blech’s shul toward Bais Faiga at the green light. A driver going north, who should have stopped at the red light , made an illegal right turn into Courtney, while pedestrians were crossing at that point right in front of him. The turn was illegal because pedestrians have the right of way and one is only allowed to make a right tun on red if there is no one else with the right of way. I therefor am afraid to cross at a crosswalk without a light even if it is a law that a driver has to yield to pedestrians, because I am afraid of such arrogant people who either don’t know thw law or think it doesn’t pertain to them.

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