SALAZAR: Crosswalks can be deadly

SALAZAR: Crosswalks can be deadly

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MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., May 15, 2014 – The laws in Maryland require motorist to stop at marked crosswalks. However, the law is somewhat complex. It seems that when there is a marked crosswalk, motorist have to stop, but only under certain circumstances; this appears somewhat dangerous.

“Section 21-502(a)(2) deals with when drivers must yield. In Maryland, waiting on the sidewalk is not enough. A pedestrian does not assert his or her right to cross until they step off the curb into the crosswalk. However, once the pedestrian steps into the crosswalk, they have the right-of-way on that half of the street, and they gain it on the other half when they step into the adjacent lane.” From above link.

Relying on a cellphone-using motorist to realize when the pedestrian has asserted his or her right seems too dangerous.

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Pedestrians can also be ticketed for jaywalking under some circumstances. Even police officers appear to be confused about this law, as some people have been ticketed when crossing legally.

Some crosswalks have a pole with a sign that shows a stop sign indicating that motorist should stop when people are on the walkway. Others just have white lines indicating where to cross. These are typical in some places where there is an intersection that is not signaled. Pedestrians take their life into their own hands when trying to cross in the latter.

Not that crossing on clearly marked crosswalks is safe. Most motorist exhibit a complete disregard of pedestrians when they are driving down a street and there are no traffic lights. Most appear to be driving in a tunnel that only includes the lane they are in.

Even in parking lots, where most would think pedestrians should be taken into account, pedestrians are at the mercy of drivers. In a certain shopping center near where I live people cut through it to avoid a signal light. One almost ended my writing career (and any other activity) one day some years back. The lady driving a big SUV appeared not to be aware that the short cut was not a high speed highway. In another episode, a motorist looking the wrong way to take a left turn ended up totaling my grocery cart and causing my groceries to spill all over. A second later and I would have taken the assault.

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Small consolation is that probably any motorist hitting a pedestrian will probably be convicted. If the pedestrian is no more, even life in prison is not fair.

There could be a question in the driver’s test in the county dealing with pedestrians on crosswalks. On page 28 of the Maryland Driver’s Manual there is a mention of the reference mentioned above.

Google “crosswalk accidents xxxxx” (xxx is the location you want) and you will find information on persons that have been hit at cross walks at that location. For Montgomery County, MD, it also show the many attempts to get a handle on this problem. Plenty of forums have been created to try to find solutions.

It is time for legislators and implementers to clarify the meaning of these apparent contradictory and at least confusing laws and regulations. Drivers should be clearly informed to stop when pedestrians are on the sidewalk intending to cross the street.

Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, stops at crosswalks for pedestrians and is extremely careful while walking in parking lots. He is in Facebook (Mario Salazar), Twitter (@chibcharus) and Google+.

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