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Pedestrians vs. vehicles — Know the laws

May 12, 2012
By DAVE WERNER ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

On April 24th in the Village of Malone, 12 tickets were issued to motorists during a four-hour period for failure to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. This enforcement detail resulted from numerous complaints about vehicles narrowly missing pedestrians while legally crossing in properly marked crosswalks. Based on the number of violations, you can expect more details in the future, and tickets are likely to be issued to pedestrians that violate the law as well as motorists.

This is the seventh article dealing with vehicle and traffic laws pertaining to pedestrians over the past five years, and a significant percentage of motorists and pedestrians still do not understand the applicable laws. So, we will review them again, beginning with pedestrians. Contrary to what many people think, pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way. The following are pedestrian do's and don'ts.

1. Pedestrians cannot cross mid-block unless there are no vehicles approaching from either direction.

2. At intersections with pedestrian "Walk/Don't Walk" signals, pedestrians must cross only when they get the "Walk" signal - once they have begun to cross, all vehicles must yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian, even if the signal changes to "Don't Walk," until the pedestrian has completed the crossing.

3. At intersections with three-color traffic signals but no crosswalk signals, pedestrians must cross only with a green light, meaning vehicles going in the same or opposite direction also have a green signal. In this case, vehicles proceeding with the green cannot turn right or left in conflict with a pedestrian, nor can a vehicle on the cross street make a right-on-red that conflicts with a pedestrian.

4. At intersections with no traffic signal, whether or not it has painted crosswalks, pedestrians must NOT step out into traffic such that it would cause a vehicle to have to stop suddenly. But, once a pedestrian does begin to cross, all traffic must yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian.

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

6. Pedestrians are not allowed to walk or run in a street or road where sidewalks are provided and they may be used safely. If they must walk or run in the road, they must walk facing traffic, and should wear bright, reflective clothing.

Now for drivers

1. Most importantly, pedestrians are not fair game, even if they are violating the law. Motorists must "exercise due care" at all times.

2. One of the most violated laws regarding motorists and pedestrians is when a motorist has a green light and is making a left turn at an intersection. The motorist is concentrating on finding a break in oncoming traffic, and when he/she sees a break, hurries the left turn, only to find a pedestrian crossing the street the motorist is turning into. In this case, the motorist must yield to the pedestrian, but now the motorist is blocking the oncoming lane while waiting for the pedestrian.

3. Motorists must "yield to pedestrians" at crosswalks and intersections. This does not mean a motorist cannot proceed if the pedestrian has already crossed your lane and is moving away from you, and no other pedestrian is approaching you. It means you must give the pedestrian the right-of-way.

4.The law also prohibits overtaking or passing another 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.

5.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.

6.When a pedestrian is walking along the road on your side, you must slow down and move over to give the pedestrian plenty of room part of the "slow down, move over" law.

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

When we know the applicable laws and obey them, we can all share the road safely.

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