This guest post is from the New Jersey car accident law firm of Console & Hollawell. While the article specifically addresses the auto/pedestrian problem in New Jersey, the principles are the same for Texas.
There has always been a troubled relationship between New Jersey motorists and pedestrians. New Jersey is the fifth most dangerous state in the U.S. for pedestrians according to recent statistics. It seems as if there is a constant struggle as to who should be doing what; drivers are unclear when they have to stop for pedestrians and pedestrians just assume they can cross the street wherever and whenever they want. Despite the law being abundantly clear, pedestrians are still getting hit by cars every year—pedestrian deaths account for 25 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the state.
The law states that drivers must yield to pedestrians when they are in a crosswalk and in turn pedestrians need to utilize the crosswalks. Then there is the grey area—someone walks out to cross the street and is not at a crosswalk, technically a car has the right of way in this situation, but in most cases the car will stop anyways. This can create very dangerous situation, if the car has to stop short, another vehicle behind them may hit them, or they may not be able to stop in time and could hit the pedestrian.
It angers many, but in the instance that a car hits a pedestrian who wasn’t in a crosswalk, there is a good chance that driver will not be facing charges from the police. A perfect example of this is the accident that occurred on January 21 in Hazlet, New Jersey. A 17-year-old man was hit by a car and was killed while attempting to cross Route 36, a busy road.
According to a report from the Asbury Park Press, Traffic Safety Lt. Stephen Schmidt explained that the young man crossed just before the intersection and not in a crosswalk.
“He had just crossed the highway at Stone Road near the intersection,” he explained. “The car had the right of way.”
Despite the fact that the boy was killed, the police have not filed charges against the driver. The case is still under investigation. This is a perfect example of the gray area when it comes to pedestrians and motorists sharing the road. If pedestrians are going to ignore crosswalks and motorists are not going to stop when someone crosses outside of one, how will New Jersey ever reduce the rate of these accidents?
New Jersey car accident lawyer Richard Console believes that everyone needs to work together to curb tragic accidents like this.
“Without cooperation from both motorists and pedestrians nothing will change,” Console said. “The laws are there to protect everyone from these types of accidents, but if they aren’t being followed and enforced there will be no improvement.”