Jeffrey Spaulding has been the chief of the since January 2, 2004. He came to Westminster with more than thirty years of police experience in the Howard County Police Department.
Chief Spaulding has agreed to work with Patch to answer citizen questions about laws, codes, ordinances, processes and penalties. If you have a question you would like to ask a police officer, post it in the comment section of this article or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to get it answered.
What are the laws pertaining to crosswalks and what are the penalties for breaking those laws?
Chief Spaulding: In simple terms, Maryland law requires that a vehicle must come to a complete stop when a pedestrian is crossing the roadway in a marked crosswalk. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in a marked crosswalk, but they must still exercise due care and may not suddenly walk into the path of a vehicle which is so close that the driver cannot reasonably yield.
On multi-lane roadways, all vehicles on the half of the roadway where the pedestrian is walking must stop, as well as cars approaching in an adjacent lane on the other half of the roadway. Additionally, it is unlawful to pass a vehicle which is already stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. While pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk, vehicles have the right-of-way between street crossings. Pedestrians should always err on the side of caution. I strongly recommend that they wait at the curbside until a vehicle in the nearest lane has come to a full stop before stepping into the crosswalk.
Drivers violating the crosswalk law are very likely to receive a traffic citation. The fine for a crosswalk violation is $80 and one point will be assessed against their license if convicted. If a pedestrian is struck or injured as a result of the violation, a “must appear” citation will be issued and the driver is subject to a fine of up to $500 at time of trial.
While pedestrian collisions are fairly rare here in Westminster, we have found that most are the result of pedestrian error. Typically they involve both children and adults who are in a hurry, inattentive and crossing the street mid-block – rather than in a marked crosswalk. It is important that both drivers and walkers do their part to ensure the safety of all.
*This column offers a broad response to questions and should not be considered legal advice.