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Clarification on stopping on crosswalks

This photo helps to illustrate the confusion that can ensue when considering the application of Vehicle and Traffic Law to the issue of obstruction of traffic at an intersection. (Provided photo)

Last week’s column was about the illegality of stopping on a crosswalk. The article included a picture, repeated with this article, of a car stopped right on a painted crosswalk along with the front of another vehicle just prior to the crosswalk.

The thrust of the article was that Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1202(a)1d prohibits stopping on a crosswalk. Section 1202 in general includes other places where stopping, standing and parking are prohibited, but is more applicable to vehicles that are stopped, standing or parked along a curbing rather than to vehicles that are in the act of driving, although it would be applicable to stopping on mid-block crosswalks, which are rare.

VTL Section 1175, “Obstructing traffic at an intersection,” is more applicable to the intent of the article. This law makes it illegal to drive a vehicle into an intersection when traffic is stopped on the opposite side of an intersection, except when making a turn, unless there is adequate space on the opposite side of the intersection to accommodate the vehicle he/she is driving.

The picture shown is a crosswalk that is on the far side of the intersection. The green car is held up by a traffic signal a block past the crosswalk in the photo. Because a crosswalk is a part of an intersection, the green car should have never entered the intersection unless it had room to go past the far-side crosswalk, which it didn’t. A driver is required to stop before the stop line or (if there is no stop line) before the crosswalk.

The previous article gave credit to the vehicle in the right lane for having stopped prior to the crosswalk; however, unless that vehicle was still moving and had room to clear the crosswalk, it also should have stopped prior to the intersection.

In Malone, because of heavy traffic on Main Street (U.S. Route 11), several intersections are often blocked by drivers not knowing the applicable laws governing this. Violations occur frequently with westbound traffic on Main Street at Amsden Street and Fort Covington Street. Main Street eastbound traffic often blocks intersections at Amsden Street and also Clay Street at the start and end of the school day, when traffic is heavy with parents and the crossing at Morton Street is busy with children.

Vehicle and Traffic Law is often complicated and difficult to explain in an article. It is written by lawyers rather than in common, easy-to-understand language. I apologize for the confusion in last week’s article and hope this one clarifies the applicable laws prohibiting blocking crosswalks and intersections.