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Ask an Officer: What are the Laws Pertaining to Crosswalks?

You see them all over town but do you really know the laws concerning crosswalks and the penalty for breaking those laws?

 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 kym.byrnes@patch.com 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.

WestMonster July 25, 2012 at 02:02 PM
I think the laws need to be beefed-up to make drivers pay more attention. With all the distractions now (phones, GPS, kids' movies...) noticing people waiting to and crossing roads is less likely. It's especially rough downtown, where there's so much to walk to, but many drivers are too distracted by other things to remember to look for walkers.
Mike B July 25, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I think the signs that they have put in some of the cross walks in town are dangerous. Some drivers just jam on their brakes and stop for no reason when they see them. Some pedestrians just keep walking into the street without even looking for traffic. If you read the whole sign it says " Stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk". That means that as a pedestrian you still have to look both ways before you cross the street and wait for traffic to pass. As a driver you have to yield to the pedestrian if they have started to cross when you get to the crosswalk. Not just jam on your brakes for no reason at all.
Jenn J July 25, 2012 at 11:08 PM
In Westminster could you please tell me why you are not out there ticketing pedestrians who are walking in the middle of the street to the Carroll County Foods and not using the crosswalk......This really steams my boat when the cross walk is right there, they wont go up there to use it and want vehicles to be held up in the road For anyone out there please remember, it is a VEHICLE it might have brakes but it takes a moment to stop it,,,,,,,,,look out for Vehicles.........also bike riders

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