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New Jersey Shore Pedestrian Accidents-Drivers Must Stop for Pedestrians in a Marked Crosswalk

Pedestrian fatalities are the second largest category of motor vehicle deaths in New Jersey and often, children and older folks are the victims. According to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, in 2009, there were 157 pedestrian deaths. Also according to the New Jersey State Police, there was a total of 581 traffic accident fatalities in 2009. This means that in 2009, approximately 27% of all traffic accident fatalities were pedestrian deaths. The majority of traffic accident fatalities occurred in Essex, Union, Middlesex, Ocean and Atlantic County. Ocean County recorded the highest number in 2009 - 63 deaths, that's over one death per week.

Some very important pedestrian rules of the road often go unheeded, resulting in pedestrian fatalities, especially at the shore. Effective April, 1, 2010, N.J.S.A. 39:4-36 provides in relevant part:

a. The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except at crosswalks when the movement of traffic is being regulated by police officers or traffic control signals, or where otherwise regulated by municipal, county, or State regulation, and except where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided:

(1) The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a marked crosswalk, when the pedestrian is upon, or within one lane of, the half of the roadway, upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. As used in this paragraph, "half of the roadway" means all traffic lanes conveying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.

(2) No pedestrian shall leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield or stop.

(3) Whenever any vehicle is stopped to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

(4) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(5) Nothing contained herein shall relieve a driver from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway. Nothing contained herein shall relieve a pedestrian from using due care for his safety.

d. In the event of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian within a marked crosswalk, or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, there shall be a permissive inference that the driver did not exercise due care for the safety of the pedestrian.

1. Walking Along the Roadway
Subsection (a)(4) clearly states that pedestrians who are not in either marked or unmarked crosswalks must yield the right of way to drivers on the roadway. This means that pedestrians who walk alongside roadways must yield to drivers on the road.

2. Crosswalks-Marked or Unmarked
Crosswalks don't exist only at intersections. They are often mid-block, especially in commercial districts. For example, many shore towns have crosswalks between intersections. Some are delineated by lines or signs and some are delineated by bricks. It is important to note that at every intersection, there is a crosswalk-whether painted or not. This is known as an unmarked crosswalk. The statute now requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks-both marked and unmarked. It also requires drivers to stop for pedestrians who are trying to cross the street at a marked crosswalk. In addition, the statute clearly mandates that once a car stops for a pedestrian, cars behind cannot pass the stopped car.

The Jersey shore provides ample opportunity for traffic accidents. Recall that Ocean County had the highest number of traffic fatalities in 2009. Factors such as alcohol and distractions such as a wagon full of beach toys increase the likelihood of pedestrian fatalities. Two recent and very highly publicized cases provide all too familiar examples.

On July 17, 2009, a bright, young 21 year old college student from Fordham University was struck and killed in a crosswalk, as she walked to work. Casey Feldman was walking to Bob's Grill in Ocean City when a delivery van struck her. She was three quarters of the way across the street. Police issued citations to the driver.

One week later, on July 25, 1009, Alex Cohen, a 25 year old American Idol contestant hopeful, was killed in a hit and run pedestrian accident in Seaside Heights. Various media outlets reported that Ms. Cohen was getting something to eat when a driver struck her and then fled the scene. She suffered massive trauma to her head and chest and died two hours later at a local hospital. Prior to the accident, the driver apparently hit a parked car near a bar and fled from an officer on a bicycle. He then struck Ms. Cohen and was intercepted an hour later in Toms River, when he was charged with drunk driving. This driver apparently had a previous drunk driving conviction in 2004.

These tragic accidents provide a very real glimpse of common, avoidable motor vehicle-pedestrian deaths at the Jersey shore. In response, the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety expanded its pedestrian decoy program to include southern Jersey shore towns such as Ocean City, Cape May and Wildwood. Officers in plain clothes act as pedestrians and can issue citations for violations. This is one step in the right direction to reducing these kinds of accidents.

If you've been hit by a car or truck, it is vital that you speak to a qualified, experienced New Jersey/Pennsylvania car and pedestrian accident lawyer. The team at White and Williams has handled many car and pedestrian accident cases and has achieved much success. We serve accident victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and always offer a free consultation. 1-877-944-8396


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