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The rights and responsibilities of New Jersey pedestrians

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Getting hit by a car while you are walking can result in catastrophic injuries - if you are lucky enough to survive the impact.

As a result, and also because there is a higher percentage of pedestrian deaths and injuries in New Jersey, law enforcement and the courts have partnered with the Division of Highway Traffic Safety to develop and promote programs to increase pedestrian safety in our state.

The focus has thus far been in three areas:

  • Education
  • Enforcement
  • Engineering

Laws changed a decade ago

Prior to 2010, drivers only had to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. In that year, state statute 39:4-36 took effect. This law mandates that drivers have to stop and allow pedestrians in marked crosswalks to proceed before driving through the intersections.

They also have to yield right-of-way to those pedestrians attempting to cross the street who are in unmarked intersection crosswalks. The only exceptions are when traffic signals or law enforcement is otherwise directing directing traffic patterns.

Drivers who flout the law face penalties

Those motorists who fail to stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks can face penalties regardless of whether an accident results. They could:

  • Face fines of $200
  • Have to pay insurance surcharges
  • Have to complete 15 days of community service
  • Be responsible for any court costs arising from their prosecution
  • Have two points added to their licenses

Pedestrians subject to laws as well

The responsibilities of pedestrians include using crosswalks at intersections with signals and obeying other pedestrian signals. Those who get caught breaking the law could face fines of $54. Pedestrians also have the duty ro remain on safe ground and not stepping into the path of motorists who are thus unable to yield and avoid striking them.

Instructing the public about pedestrian safety

The focus of the second component is to teach New Jersey residents about pedestrian safety, especially those who do not speak English, kids and senior citizens. Those are the demographic groups that face the highest risk of injury or death from being involved in a car-pedestrian accident.

Enforcement programs target high-risk collision areas

Certain roads in the community that have already experienced pedestrian accidents face increased scrutiny from law enforcement. Police may issue warnings but are also prepared to ticket lawbreakers and issue court summons.

Intersections may be tweaked for safety

Traffic engineers might add signage or crosswalk stripes to intersections to enhance pedestrian safety. Safety grants can be accessed to reduce the number of collisions that kill and injure those who walk in the community.

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