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New Jersey laws designed to limit serious injuries to pedestrians

Many New Jersey motorists remember the days when you only had to wait for pedestrian to clear your lane before you can proceed through a crosswalk. All of that changed beginning April 2010 and now, New Jersey Statute 39:4-36 requires that motorists remain completely stopped until a pedestrian has finished crossing the street.

Alternatively, under a subsection of that same statute, pedestrians who are attempting to cross the street at some place other than a marked crosswalk or at an intersection that is unmarked must yield the right-of-way to any vehicle on the roadway.

The penalties enforcing the new statute are fairly tough. For example, motorists caught in violation of the pedestrian statute can be assessed two points against their driver's license record, fined up to $200 and court costs and receive 15 days of community service. Pedestrians can receive a $54 fine for jaywalking.

New Jersey implemented tougher standards after realizing that it ranked higher than the national average for auto-pedestrian accidents resulting in injuries and death. In an effort to reduce those numbers, the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety has been working hard with local and county agencies to come up with good strategies that promote pedestrian safety by means of increased education, enforcement and engineering.

The education component of that strategy is getting the word out to children, elderly folks and non-English-speaking pedestrians about the proper use of crosswalks and the dangers jaywalking. The following are some examples of recommended pedestrian activities:

-- Always use marked crosswalks or in the absence of that, always cross at the intersection.

-- Wear light or reflective clothing when walking at night.

-- Stay alert when you are in the crosswalk. Keep an eye out for inattentive motorists.

-- Walk in the same direction as traffic.

-- Avoid walking during inclement weather such as heavy rain or fog.

Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, some motorists will nevertheless still strike pedestrians with their vehicles. These encounters are often deadly or result in serious injuries to the pedestrian. If you are the victim of a driver who failed to yield or otherwise struck you with his or her vehicle, you may be able to sue for compensation of your injuries.

Source: The State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, "Office of the Attorney General- pedestrian safety" Aug. 21, 2014

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