Jaywalker - Legal Issues By Jurisdiction - North America

North America

State and provincial road rules in the United States and Canada typically require a driver to yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing a road when the pedestrian crosses at a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk. Unmarked crosswalks generally exist as the logical extensions of sidewalks at intersections with approximately right angles. Following the Uniform Vehicle Code, state codes often do not prohibit a pedestrian to cross a roadway between intersections if at least one of the two adjacent intersections is not controlled by a signal, but stipulate that a pedestrian not at a crosswalk must yield the right of way to approaching drivers. State codes often permit pedestrians to use roads which are not controlled access facilities and without sidewalks but they must keep to the leftmost side of the road unless this renders them invisible to approaching traffic.

State codes may include provisions that allow local authorities to prohibit pedestrian crossing at locations outside crosswalks, but since municipal pedestrian ordinances are often not well known to drivers or pedestrians, and can vary from place to place in a metropolitan area that contains many municipalities, obtaining compliance with local prohibitions of pedestrian crossings much more restrictive than statewide pedestrian regulations can be difficult. Signs, fences, and barriers of various types (including planted hedges) have been used to prohibit and prevent pedestrian crossing at some locations; where detour to a legal crossing would be highly inconvenient, even fences are sometimes not effective. Street design, traffic design, and locations of major building entrances that make crosswalks the most logical and practical locations to cross streets are usually more effective than police enforcement in reducing the incidence of illegal or reckless pedestrian crossings.

At a signalized crossing, a pedestrian is subject to the applicable pedestrian traffic signal or, if no pedestrian signal is displayed, the signal indications for the parallel vehicular movement. A pedestrian signal permits a pedestrian to begin crossing a street during the "Walk" display; the pedestrian is usually considered to be "jaywalking" only if he entered the crosswalk at some other time. The meanings of pedestrian signal indications are summarized in Section 4E.02 of the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

Jaywalking is commonly considered an infraction but in some jurisdictions it is a misdemeanor or requires a court appearance. The penalty is usually a fine. In some cities (e.g. New York City, Chicago, and Boston), although prohibited, "jaywalking" behavior has been so commonplace that police generally cite or detain jaywalkers only if their behavior is considered excessively dangerous or disruptive, such as running out in front of a moving vehicle, or crossing after the light is about to change to allow cross traffic to proceed. Penalties for jaywalking vary by state or province and, within a state, may vary by county or municipality. In Tempe, Arizona, as of June 2006 jaywalking carried fines up to US$118; a sampling of other U.S. cities found fines ranging from US$1-$1,000

Jaywalking at a signalized intersection may carry higher fines in some jurisdictions due to disobeying the signalized controls. Many jurisdictions have a separate law defining the difference between jaywalking, or "disobedience of traffic signal controls." Some jurisdictions may fine you up to the same amount as a vehicle running a red light, but no driving points are issued, as the pedestrian was not driving at the time.

Read more about this topic:  Jaywalker, Legal Issues By Jurisdiction

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