New Jersey police try to educate drivers on state pedestrian law

New Jersey police try to educate drivers on state pedestrian law

Imagine you’re driving down a New Jersey street and you see a pedestrian step off the curb at the intersection in front of you. If there isn’t a stop sign or traffic light to guide you, what’s your next move? Do you drive through the intersection, slow down to give the walker enough time to cross, or stop completely at the crosswalk? What if the crosswalk isn’t marked?

There appears to be some confusion among New Jersey drivers as to what the traffic rules are when it comes to walkers. It’s this uncertainty that leads to hundreds of pedestrian accidentsevery year. In fact, recent figures show that New Jersey tops the list of states with the most accidents between vehicles and pedestrians. Two years ago, the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety changed the laws governing how motorists and pedestrians should interact, but many drivers are apparently still unclear on the changes.

Under the old law, drivers were only required to yield to pedestrians entering a marked crosswalk. Since the new law went into effect in April 2010, drivers must come to a complete stop for pedestrians in a marked crosswalk, and are required to yield to walkers crossing at an unmarked intersection. Those who fail to follow the law may be subject to a $200 fine, community service and up to 2 points on their driving record.

Recently police officers from the Hammonton Police Department conducted a pedestrian safety exercise to see just how many drivers understand and obey the current law. Acting as a “decoy,” one officer walked repeatedly across an intersection with a marked crosswalk. Over the five hours of the exercise — paid for by a grant designed to reduce such accidents — more than 100 drivers neglected to come to a complete stop for a pedestrian in the road. Drivers who disobeyed the law were pulled over and issued a warning and a pamphlet about the law.

Not all drivers will be so lucky as to avoid a traffic ticket, but a citation would still be preferable to an actual accident with a pedestrian. Walkers who stay alert, watch for immediately oncoming traffic and obey pedestrian signals have a reasonable expectation that they won’t be injured or killed while crossing an intersection.

Source:, “Hammonton Police Dept. conducts pedestrian safety exercise,” Desmond Miller, Nov. 29, 2012