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Pedestrians’ rights and responsibilities renewed — again

July 2, 2011
By DAVE WERNER - Franklin County Traffic Safety Board ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Following a fatal car-pedestrian collision this past winter on Elm Street in Malone, and a recent car-pedestrian collision involving injuries at West Main St and Webster Street in Malone, it is appropriate to review sections 1150 to 1157 of the state vehicle and traffic laws governing pedestrians. The applicable laws give pedestrians certain rights but also responsibilities.

At any intersection where a person wishing to cross is facing a pedestrian crossing signal, the walker must cross only when given the "walk" signal. Most of our pedestrian cross-walk signals are of the "count down" type, giving crossers the amount of time remaining before the signal changes. When the "Don't Walk" signal shows, a pedestrian cannot begin the cross, but may complete the cross if already started.

At an intersection with a traffic light but without pedestrian lights, the person crossing may only cross when the street he/she is walking along receives the green signal for vehicles. In this case, the vehicles on the street that the pedestrian is crossing have a red light. Also, any vehicle that is turning must yeild to a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

At an intersection without traffic lights, motorists are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. This means vehicles must slow or stop if need be to yield to the pedestrian. However, the pedestrian cannot just suddenly step off the curb into traffic if a vehicle is close enough that it is impractical for the driver to yield.

The law also prohibits overtaking or passing a vehicle that has stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, including multiple lane streets or roads. A good example of this is along Main St. in Malone, much of which has four driving lanes. For instance, if a westbound vehicle in the right lane is stopped for a pedestrian crossing Main St. at Webster St., it is illegal to pass that vehicle in the left lane. This is the situation that injured the pedestrian recently, as a vehicle proceeding west in the inside lane failed to see the pedestrian crossing but passed the vehicle in the outside lane that had stopped.

Crossing a street or road in mid-block is allowed under V&T law, but here the pedestrian has basically no rights. He/she must wait for traffic in both directions to be clear, and must yield to all vehicles upon the roadway. This is not "J-walking", but rather referred to as "mid-block" crossing.

Other points relative to vehicles, pedestrians, and crosswalks;

At intersections where there are no crosswalks painted on the pavement, it is implied that crosswalks are there, and pedestrians must be treated as if there were painted crosswalks.

Drivers emerging from or entering an alleyway, building, private road or driveway must yield to pedestrians on any sidewalk extending across the driveway, alleyway etc.

Drivers approaching a crosswalk or intersection must stop for blind pedestrians attempting to cross while using a white cane or a guide dog.

Pedestrians are not allowed to walk in a street or roadway where sidewalks are provided and they may be used safely.

No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless specifically authorized by traffic control devices (J-walking). Such crossings are generally found in large cities. There are no such intersections in Franklin County.

When walking along a street or road without sidewalks, walk facing traffic.

Although not required by law, pedestrians walking along a street or road in darkness should wear bright, reflective clothing and/or carry a flashlight.

Know the law and be a safe, courteous driver or pedestrian. For more traffic safety information, go to



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