Because kids are now back in school, I am reminded about the importance of pedestrian/crosswalk safety. It's vitally important that all drivers keep a proper lookout and respect pedestrian right-of-way's, especially with so many more children on foot. It's important not only to try and ensure everyone's safety but it's also the law.
A good summary of many areas of the law can be found in the pattern jury instructions that we lawyers use when in trial. These are often given, verbatim, by the judge to the jury to explain the law of the case. Some that are applicable here:
- A driver of a vehicle approaching a crosswalk has a duty of continuous observation.
- The driver of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon (or within one lane of the half of) the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.
- A pedestrian within a crosswalk has the right to assume that all drivers of approaching vehicles will yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian. This right continues until the pedestrian knows otherwise, or until surrounding circumstances should have alerted the pedestrian to the fact that an approaching vehicle is not going to yield the right-of-way. Absent such circumstances, a pedestrian within a crosswalk has no duty to look for approaching vehicles.
- A crosswalk exists not only where marked, but at every intersection of roadways, regardless of whether the roadway is marked with crosswalk lines.
And of course, drivers need to slow down within school zones. Not only is it safer, there are significant fines for failure to drive at posted reduced speed limits within school zones during hours children are expected to be present in.
My Personal Observation
I'll finish with a personal observation. Sometimes I think people are more focused on their perceived/actual rights of way (or their phones!), rather than the real-world consequences of their actions. As a pedestrian, your right-of-way isn't going to do much good if you get annihilated by a driver who is not paying attention. As a driver, you're not going to be able to sleep easy at night if you injure or kill a pedestrian, regardless of whether they were crossing in the proper place if paying more attention and driving with more care could have prevented the collision.
Let's everyone keep their heads on a swivel and be careful out there.