Two years ago, following an unprecedented increase in pedestrian deaths, the New Jersey legislature took action and passed stricter requirements and penalties for drivers and pedestrians in Bergen County and throughout the state. Under the new law, motorists are required to stop at pedestrian crosswalks, instead of merely yielding.
Since the law took effect, pedestrian accident fatalities have declined, dropping from 158 in 2009 to 139 in 2010. However, there have still been fatal crashes, causing many to question the effectiveness of the law.
According to Janna Chernetz, the New Jersey advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, the changes to the laws required both motorists and pedestrians to change their habits and become more aware of one another. "It puts the burden equally upon the driver and the pedestrian," she told The Star-Ledger. "The law does not relieve the duty of the pedestrian. It's not a free-for-all." Under the law, pedestrians are required to use crosswalks and obey traffic signals.
However, the penalties for violating the laws vary based on your mode of transportation. Motorists that fail to stop for walkers or bicyclists can be fined up to $200 and receive two points on their driver's license. Pedestrians who do not comply with the law are only fined about $50.
The disparity may be explained by the number of tickets issued following the law's implementation. During the first year in which the law was in effect, the number of tickets issued to drivers nearly doubled from the previous year, jumping from 5,572 to 10,719. In the same time period, the tickets issued to pedestrians decreased from 1,665 to 787.
It will be interesting to see if these downward trends continue in the coming years.
If you or a family member has been injured in a motor vehicle-pedestrian crash, please contact Breslin & Breslin to discuss your rights in a free consultation with an attorney.
Source: The Star-Ledger, "2010 law to reduce pedestrian injuries sees mixed results," Mike Frassinelli, July 8, 2012