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Mailbag: I brake for just about everyone

June 23, 2010

Marylou Spires, I feel your frustration regarding the issues you have with pedestrians and the excessive speed of many motorists ("Jaywalking law needs to be enforced, June 19).

I see "near misses" every day as a pedestrian and as a motorist. There is also the ongoing debate about bicyclists and exactly what their responsibilities are while sharing the road with motorists.

If you acquaint yourself with the current Department of Motor Vehicles handbook and research the information that is available, you will be hard-pressed to find any mention of "jaywalking" among the rules and regulations with reference to the rights of pedestrians.


In fact, I will go a step further and state that as a pedestrian, if I were cited for "jaywalking," I believe I could get a "pass" on this simply by referring to the section of the DMV handbook concerning pedestrians and crosswalks.

Here is an excerpt:

"A crosswalk is the part of the roadway set aside for pedestrian traffic.

Most intersections have a pedestrian crosswalk whether or not there are painted lines on the street.

Most crosswalks are at corners, but they can also be in the middle of the block.

Crosswalks are often marked with white lines. Yellow crosswalk lines may be painted at school crossings.

Most often, crosswalks in residential areas are not marked.

Remember, if a pedestrian makes eye contact with you, he or she is ready to cross the street. Yield to the pedestrian."

So, Marylou, it seems that no matter where a pedestrian chooses to cross, we as motorists must yield the right-of-way to the pedestrian. It does seem to me that this entire issue of pedestrians, marked and unmarked crosswalks, has been painted with a very broad brush, and one has to wonder what the responsibility of the pedestrians is in securing their own safety besides "making eye contact."

Whatever one's definition of "jaywalking" may be, it appears that if we follow the DMV handbook, citing a pedestrian for this infraction may be somewhat challenging and may explain why law enforcement shies away from issuing these citations.

Bicyclists, on the other hand, are required by law to follow the same rules and regulations of motorists. Not surprisingly, most of the bicyclists I encounter on a daily basis do not. Even adults with young children do not heed the rules of the road.

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