Safe Routes Scoop

New Law: Stop and Stay
Stopped for Pedestrians

 

The duties of New Jersey motorists to pedestrians in a crosswalk have recently been changed. A bill recently enacted by the New Jersey Legislature and effective April 1 of this year (P.L. 2009, c. 319), now requires motorists to “stop and remain stopped” for pedestrians who are either in a marked crosswalk or in an unmarked crosswalk at a controlled intersection, except in specified circumstances when the pedestrian is beyond harm’s way.  The new rules are the first major changes dealing with motorists’ duties to pedestrians since 1951. This new law specifies the mutual duties and obligations of motorists and pedestrians towards each other at controlled and uncontrolled intersections and crosswalks.

 

This law, championed by Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22), is designed to promote pedestrian safety and to ultimately build pedestrians’ confidence that, when they are rightfully in the crosswalk but potentially in harm’s way, motorists will stop to let them pass. This confidence-building measure promotes walking, which public health experts widely tout as a means of achieving the recommended level of daily physical activity for people of all ages.

 

In announcing a law enforcement campaign to educate motorists and pedestrians about the new law, Attorney General Paula Dow cited the statistics that showed that New

Jersey has suffered a disproportional number of pedestrian injury crashes and fatalities compared to the nation as a whole. Statewide since 2004, more than 30,000 pedestrians have been injured in motor-vehicle related crashes.

 

The Attorney General said that with the changes in the law “motorists and pedestrians will no longer have to play a game of chicken when it comes to maneuvering on our roadways.” She added, “The new law brings clarity that drivers must stop and remain stopped at intersections and crosswalks, and pedestrians, in turn, must use due care and not jaywalk or step into traffic outside crossing points.” 

 

The drafters of the new law, which originated from research conducted by the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center of Rutgers University, believed that protections for New Jersey pedestrians in crosswalks had eroded since the automobile began to dominate our streets.

 

The New Jersey State Traffic Commission Report, issued in 1928, when the automobile began to emerge as a major factor in the roadway, observed:

 

"Traffic accident records disclose a startling number and proportion of pedestrian fatalities and injuries.  The common-law rule has maintained for many centuries that all users of the

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