A few weeks ago, this writer reported that New Jersey’s “Crosswalk Law” may be the most ignored legal measure of all time. Public Law 2009, passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jon Corzine on January 18, 2010, requires motorists to come to a complete stop at a crosswalk when a pedestrian is crossing a street and to remain stopped until the pedestrian safely reaches the opposite sidewalk.
Previous legislation only required motorists to yield to pedestrians, but twenty-eight pedestrian deaths the previous year prompted the Legislature to act.
The “Crosswalk Law” went into effect on April 1, 2010, and, although it initially ignited some publicity, has been largely ignored by motorists and police departments alike. Interestingly, the legislation had bi-partisan support when introduced and passed.
The primary sponsors in the Assembly were Linda Stender, John Wisneiwski, Ruben Ramos, and Thomas Giblin, all Democrats. However, the primary sponsors in the Senate were Tom Kean, a Republican, and James Beach, a Democrat.
According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the “Crosswalk Law” requires drivers to stop and remain stopped while a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk.
In addition, the Law requires drivers who are making a right turn at either a red or green light to stop and remain stopped “for a pedestrian crossing within the adjacent crosswalk onto which the motorist is turning.”
As our population ages, and more people suffer from medial conditions that will hamper or slow their gait, walking to a store, post office or restaurant becomes a hazardous activity.
These pedestrians, including people with disabilities become prey to overzealous drivers who are rushing to keep appointments. The crosswalk law was created because of an alarming rate of pedestrian fatalities. Nevertheless, no law is effective unless it is enforced.
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.