Walk This Way
Crosswalk laws and safety tips to be aware of.
Spring is my favorite season. It’s when everything outside is coming to life, the warmer weather is coming after cold Wintery days and we can finally head outside for walks and playtime. The idea of this article actually popped into my head while I was taking my kids for a walk a couple of weeks ago.
Along our walk, we came to the crosswalk at East Street and North Street. There is no crossing signal at this intersection, so we had to wait for cars to stop to let us cross the street. To my shocking disappointment, over 15 cars kept driving by not letting us cross. Finally, two cars stopped to let us cross the street. We continued our walk and then had to cross Main Street. Then again, car after car after car kept driving by. I lost count on that one. After waiting a few minutes, we were finally able to cross the street.
I was absolutely appalled at what we experienced on that walk. So, I decided to do some research and write about it to the public to raise awareness on crosswalk laws and safety tips. With the help of Tewksbury Safety Police Officer, Jennie Welch, I am able to present those laws and tips to you here and now.
MGL Chapter 89, Section 11. When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be so to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk marked in accordance with standards established by the department of highways if the pedestrian is on that half of the traveled part of the way on which the vehicle is traveling or if the pedestrian approaches from the opposite half of the traveled part of the way to within 10 feet of that half of the traveled part of the way on which said vehicle is traveling.
No driver of a vehicle shall pass any other vehicle which has stopped at a marked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross, nor shall any such operator enter a marked crosswalk while a pedestrian is crossing or until there is a sufficient space beyond the crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle he is operating, notwithstanding that a traffic control signal may indicate that vehicles may proceed.
Whoever violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $200.
Whenever a pedestrian is injured by a motor vehicle in a marked crosswalk, the department of state police or the municipal police department with jurisdiction of the street, in consultation with department of state police if deemed appropriate, shall conduct an investigation into the cause of the injury and any violation of this section or other law or ordinance and shall issue the appropriate civil or criminal citation or file an application for the appropriate criminal complaint, if any. This section shall not limit the ability of a district attorney or the attorney general to seek an indictment in connection with the operation of a motor vehicle which causes injury or death and which violates this section.
According to EOPSS, in 2008, approximately 20.6% (75 pedestrian fatalities) of all motor vehicle-related fatalities (364) involved pedestrians in Massachusetts. That year, 233 pedestrians suffered serious/incapacitating injuries as a result of a motor-vehicle crash.
Whether you walk, bike or drive, please take 5 seconds to follow crosswalk safety guidelines.
• Always cross at marked crosswalks. You forfeit your rights as a pedestrian if you cross elsewhere.
• Obey any pedestrian signals and look left-right-left to make sure the road is clear in both directions before crossing.
• If a vehicle approaches, make eye contact with the driver to be sure s/he sees you before you cross.
• Look before walking past stopped vehicles. Do not cross just because a driver waves you on. Be sure all lanes are clear first.
• Yield to pedestrians.
• Remember that bicyclists are not considered pedestrians unless they are walking their bikes. Otherwise, they are considered vehicles and forfeit their rights as pedestrians in the case of an accident or citation.
• Use marked bike paths or multi-use paths when available.
• Obey vehicular traffic signals and laws on the roadways.
• Use extra caution as you transition between bike paths, roads and sidewalks. Be aware that your actions are unpredictable to drivers and pedestrians.
• Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and at intersections.
• Be prepared to stop at all marked crosswalks. Stay alert and reduce speed in areas with crosswalks.
• Be alert for bicyclists and skateboarders whose approaches to the crosswalk may be much swifter than those of pedestrians.
• Come to a complete stop if pedestrians are crossing or preparing to cross.
• Wait until pedestrians have crossed at least one lane past the lane you are in before resuming travel.
• Never pass another vehicle that has stopped or is slowing down at a crosswalk.
So please, next time you are driving and are approaching a crosswalk, slow down and look to see if anyone is waiting to cross. It could be children or parents with their kids and they are not going to just start walking across the crosswalk until cars are completely stopped. We all just need to be a little more aware of our surroundings.
Thank you to Tewksbury Safety Police Officer, Jennie Welch, for providing laws and safety tips for us to take note of.
Oh and one more thing, if you are walking your dog, please pick up after him/her if they go the bathroom.