Signs at New Jersey crosswalks will no longer read “Yield to Pedestrians within Crosswalk”. Those signs now read “Stop for Pedestrians within Crosswalk”. That is because on April 1, 2010 a new law went into effect in New Jersey requiring all motorists to come to a full stop at pedestrian crosswalks and remain stopped until all pedestrians in the walk have completed crossing the road. This applies at all crosswalks – school zones; parking lots; streets, roads, and/or avenues with or without traffic lights or stop signs. Motorists who fail to stop and/or fail to remain stopped as mandated by the new law, can be fined $200 and receive 2 points on their NJ driving record.
While the new law may have put into place to protect pedestrians, they need to be responsible for their actions, too. Complying with the new law means that pedestrians must cross in a designated crosswalk where available, obey traffic signals (i.e. “walk”, “don’t walk” signs), and yield to oncoming traffic if not crossing in a cross walk. Those pedestrians who do not follow the law can incur a fine of $54.
This change in law is notable because from 2004 – present, New Jersey has had a disproportionately high rate of pedestrian auto accident deaths, with an average of 150 per year. This is not only the highest rate of motor vehicle-pedestrian accident fatalities of any state in the union, but it is also double that of the national average.
As for a few other New Jersey pedestrian accident statistics, in 2009 there were 157 pedestrian accident deaths. By the end of March (2010) there were already 28 recorded pedestrian fatalities in New Jersey since the beginning of the year, which is actually down from last year, when the number of deaths recorded during the same period was 48. Since 2004, over 30,000 pedestrians have been injured in New Jersey car accidents.
For the many decades that the law required only yielding to pedestrians, numerous drivers did not even do that, according to safety officials in New Jersey. Therefore, a whole new mindset will need to be adopted by New Jersey drivers, as well as drivers from neighboring states who are not conditioned to stopping at crosswalks. This will be a big adjustment for some. It is extremely important, however, to get into the habit quickly. Summer is coming and this law certainly does apply at the Jersey shore. Be mindful that at every corner pedestrians are likely to be crossing and you need to stop. In the summer of 2009, 21-year old Casey Feldman was involved in a pedestrian accident and killed while crossing at a 4-way stop intersection in Ocean City, New Jersey by a distracted driver who did not stop.
Ultimately, pedestrians and drivers alike must increase their awareness and proceed cautiously when approaching crosswalks in order to begin to effectuate a decline in the number of New Jersey motor vehicle-pedestrian accidents. If you have been injured as a result of a pedestrian accident in NJ or PA, contact the car accident injury lawyers at Cordisco & Saile LLC.