We all have “pet peeves” when it comes to driving. Some have to do with laws and others are just common courtesy. 

Crosswalk sign sign in downtown Toms River (Kevin Williams, Townsquare Media NJ)

I could do a 10-part series on this, including the incredible abuse of Yield signs, the failure to use turn signals and much more.  Today though I am focused on something that’s really bothering me and that has to deal with a relatively new state law which involves both drivers and pedestrians.

You may have noticed many more signs that tell drivers they must stop when there are pedestrians within a crosswalk.  Up until a few years ago you had to yield in those cases but since we know the yield sign is often ignored it is now New Jersey law that you must stop when you see one of these signs.

I have observed multiple violations of this law by both those behind the wheel and those on their feet.  The law says DRIVERS must stop and remain stopped while a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk.   There are other aspects of this but the bottom line is the driver has to exercise due care for the safety of the pedestrian.

However (and here is part of my problem), the PEDESTRIAN also has some responsibility and that is not to leave the curb and enter into the crosswalk in a fashion which makes it difficult for the driver to stop safely.   I can’t tell you how many times I have noticed that walkers seem to think that because there is a signed crosswalk it means they can almost ignore traffic and cross the street whenever they want. This is especially true by the Ocean County Courthouse on Hooper Avenue in Toms River.

Often you will see pedestrians talking on their cell phone and crossing the street without even looking if traffic is nearby.  The other day I had to jam on my brakes pretty hard as a distracted well-dressed man who appeared to be an attorney entered the crosswalk with a briefcase in one hand while talking on his cell.  When he noticed me stopping abruptly he pointed to the crosswalk sign and gave me a dirty look. I responded in a similar fashion.

Another area in which I see numerous violations of this law is along oceanfront roads which often use these signs to help pedestrians coming off the beach and boardwalk areas.  Yet while drivers are often guilty of not stopping, just as many pedestrians are guilty of assuming they have no responsibility and can cross whenever they want.  It’s not supposed to work that way as both are responsible for each other’s safety.

This concludes today’s motor vehicle “pet peeve.”  Stay tuned for more.