Does the New Jersey Crosswalk Law Prevent Pedestrian Accidents?

After New Jersey experienced a high number of injuries and fatalities involving pedestrians, the state enacted a new law in 2010 requiring motorists to stop, instead of just yielding, at pedestrian crosswalks.

To be considered “in” a crosswalk, a pedestrian has to step off a curb or into the street.

Drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians can be fined $200, plus court costs, and get two points on their licenses. Pedestrians who jaywalk can be fined $54. The police have even acted as “undercover pedestrians” to check whether motorists are stopping.

After two years, the results of the new law are mixed. Fatalities are down, but are still occurring in crosswalks.

In January, a 68-year-old hospice nurse grazed a man with her car on North Avenue, then stopped to help him out of the intersection. Another car clipped both the nurse and the pedestrian. When the nurse was laying in the road, a pickup truck hit her and she was killed.

In June, two Westfield residents, age 84 and 74, were charged with driving while intoxicated, vehicular homicide, assault by auto, second degree leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

In the first 12 months after the new law was passed, the number of summonses doubled: from 5,572 in 2009-10 to 10,719 in 2010-11. Summonses fell to 7,919 in 2011-12, suggesting that motorists may be getting the message.

New Jersey pedestrian deaths dropped from 158 in 2009 to 139 in 2010. Citations to pedestrians dropped from 1,665 in 2009-1o to 787 in 2010-11, suggesting that pedestrians had also become more aware of the dangers of jaywalking.

Accidents can also be caused when people walk-and-talk (on cell phones) while crossing the street, oblivious to oncoming traffic. Studies have shown that texting while driving is even more dangerous than drunk driving, and texting drivers can fail to notice people in crosswalks.

If you or a family member have been the victim of a pedestrian accident or injury in New Jersey, contact a New Jersey accident and personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C.

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