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What should I know about pedestrian accidents in crosswalks?

Do you know the rules and regulations regarding the use of crosswalks in Connecticut? All too many pedestrians and drivers are caught unaware because they do not understand that they should have had or yielded the right-of-way. A pedestrian accident can be avoided by both drivers and pedestrians learning about their legal rights and responsibilities on the road.

What is the definition of a crosswalk? A crosswalk is defined as the part of a public road at an intersection at which two sidewalks would be connected by a lateral line. Additional crosswalks are often created in the middle of a road, with extra devices marking pedestrian right-of-way even at an area that is not an intersection. Generally, the traffic authority of a municipality is given the right to create crosswalks.

What rights and responsibilities does a pedestrian have in a Connecticut crosswalk? Pedestrians are given the right-of-way whenever they are in the crosswalk or at the curb of intersection, which means that all vehicles must slow down and stop for the pedestrian. Further, the vehicles must remain stationary until the pedestrian has reached a "zone of safety" -- though that term is poorly defined in statute. Crosswalks can be regulated by traffic lights, special crossing lights or special markings on the road. Pedestrians are required to yield to vehicles when no marked crosswalk exists or when an emergency vehicle with lights or sirens activated is approaching.

What happens if someone violates these rules? Pedestrians who ignore traffic requirements at crosswalks can face significant fines -- and the same goes for negligent drivers. Both parties are expected to follow the rules to promote safety, but that does not always happen. In the event of a failure to yield from a vehicle, a pedestrian can suffer serious injuries. In those cases, the driver may be subject to legal action including a ruling from a civil court in favor of the victim.

Source: The Connecticut General Assembly, "Pedestrian Crosswalks," accessed Sep. 16, 2015

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