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Pedestrian Crosswalk Laws – Better Safe than Sorry

Pedestrian Crosswalk Laws

If you’ve spent any time in New York, then you know that jaywalking is just a fact of life for people in the city. Everyone has done it at one time or another. Some people do it every day. In some ways, it’s hard to blame someone trying to make their way through crowded, traffic-clogged streets for taking the opportunity to cross whenever it comes their way, regardless of whether or not it’s strictly legal.

As understandable as the urge to jaywalk is, though, traffic laws exist for a reason, and illegally crossing the street is something that every New Yorker should avoid. Not only can illegal street crossings cause you to run afoul of New York State jaywalking laws, they can also put your life in danger.

Crosswalks Are There for a Reason

Crosswalks are one of the most useful but least loved safety features in New York City. Many people look at crosswalks as minor inconveniences, at best, if they notice them at all, but crosswalks serve a very important function. Whether or not an intersection has a crosswalk changes how drivers and pedestrians are supposed to act when they come to it.

In the state of New York, drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians who are in the crosswalk. If there is no crosswalk, however, pedestrians are required to yield the right of way to drivers.[i] Understanding this distinction is important. If an accident were to occur, who is at fault is at least partially determined by who was violating traffic laws.

The Consequences of Jaywalking

Many people jaywalk so frequently and with such little concern that it’s sometimes hard to remember that there can be consequences for doing so. Despite the cavalier attitude many people in New York have adopted toward obeying traffic laws, jaywalking is illegal, and being cited for it will result in a ticket and a fine.

Unless wherever you are going is worth paying hundreds of dollars to get there a few seconds earlier, the cost-benefit analysis on jaywalking says that following the rules is the smarter decision.

Of course, that’s just the legal consequences of jaywalking, which is only one part of the risk involved. Even worse than being ticketed is the risk of being hit by a car that doesn’t see you stepping out into traffic or that can’t stop in time to avoid you.

Car accidents involving pedestrians can cause serious injury or even death, and jaywalking where drivers aren’t expecting people to cross the street greatly increases the chances of it happening to you. Even relatively minor injuries can result in expensive medical bills and missed work.

If the pedestrian is found to be at fault for the accident, he or she will be responsible for paying for all of it. Crosswalks exist to keep New Yorkers safe, and those who ignore them do so at their own risk.

Want to learn more about New York traffic laws? Contact The Dearie Law Firm today at (212) 970-6500.