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Monday, February 1, 2010

Pedestrian Traffic Rules in Parking Lots and Crosswalks

There are many misconceptions about how the rules of the road apply to crosswalks and parking lots. In addition to the misconceptions, the laws vary from state to state. In some cases there are no written laws at all.

It is particularly difficult to apply the rules of the road to parking lots because many parking lots are private properties. Regarding incidents that occur on private property, the police are unable to issue tickets or write a report. Therefore, they are unable to assign fault to the driver or pedestrian. Then any action taken after the fact will be considered a civil dispute.

Typically, people assume that pedestrians always have the right of way in any situation. If for no other reason than because it is illegal to drive into a person who is standing in the middle of the street (or parking lot). According to laws in some states that assumption is not always true. Traffic laws in Maine state; "A pedestrian may not suddenly leave the curb or other place of safety and walk in the path of a vehicle where it is impossible for the operator to yield." Although, that may seem like commonsense, apparently many pedestrians walk into traffic without realizing they do not have enough time to safely cross the street. Perhaps they assume they have the right of way and the drivers must yield to them. California and Florida both have laws that address that exact issue. According to the Florida Pedestrian Law Enforcement Guide, published in August 2008, pedestrians are required to yield to drivers outside of designated crosswalks. On the other hand, California requires drivers to stop for pedestrians whether there is a crosswalk or not.

One thing laws in all 50 states agree on is that pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk when the walk signal is on. However, the states have varying laws on how the drivers must approach the crosswalks. Many states allow drivers to yield when approaching a crosswalk. But, states such as California and Washington require drivers to come to a full and complete stop.

New York City is arguably the most pedestrian heavy city in the world. To accommodate the heavy pedestrian traffic and the heavy vehicular traffic the city requires pedestrians to cross in the crosswalks. If pedestrians cross outside of crosswalks they could be fined by the police for reckless pedestrian crossing of a roadway or jaywalking (the common term for unlawfully crossing the street outside of the designated crosswalk). In New York, drivers are required to yield for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Because New York is such a pedestrian heavy city there are many more fatalities involving pedestrians and drivers. According to the New York Times, in 2007 New Yorkers were twice as likely to be killed by a stranger behind the wheel as to be killed by a stranger with a knife or a gun.

To learn more about the rules of the road and pedestrian traffic in New York, California or Florida please visit: www.TestQuestionsandAnswers.com

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