When a pedestrian is waiting at a crosswalk, do you legally have to stop to let them across the road?

While I was driving in Oneida on Monday, I had to travel down the infamous side road that has multiple crosswalks across the street with just bright yellow but unlit signs on either side- leaving the motorist entirely responsible to look ahead and see if anyone is waiting on the side of the road.

While heading up the street, I saw a woman standing at on of those crosswalks. I slowed down immediately for her, because in my home state, pedestrians 100% have the right of way and all cars must stop. State and local police effectively enforce this by waiting to catch motorists who ignore the law - resulting in a hefty fine.

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Imagine my surprise as I watched multiple cars in the other lane blowing through the crosswalk. After a while, a sedan stopped for the woman - and nearly got rear-ended by the car behind them.

That made me wonder if New York doesn't give pedestrians the same right of way as Connecticut and I unknowingly put people in danger by stopping.


According to the New York State government, pedestrians have the absolute right of way on a signaled crosswalk - but what about those without lights or posted signs?

Here's what the law says:

If there is a crosswalk at a location where there are no traffic control signals for drivers or pedestrians, drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians... Pedestrians have the right of way in all crosswalks and at intersections with marked or unmarked crosswalks.

Violating these traffic laws can result in a fine of $150 for first-time offenders, $300 for second-time offenders within an 18-month window, and $450 for a repeat offense after that.

Each violation can also result in up to 3 points per incident being added to one's driving record. Those who manage to accumulate 6 or more points within a span of 18 months will have to cough up $400 for a Driver Responsibility Assessment fee and an additional $75 for every additional point.

dangerous crossing
Photo Credit - PinkBadger/Thinkstock

In the case a pedestrian is hurt, drivers can be fined up to $7,500 and also face jail time and a suit brought on by the pedestrian for damages.

New York also has laws in the books in case an impatient driver tries going around the vehicle that's stopped for a pedestrian.

Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

Safe to say the law protected the driver who stopped for the motorists and nearly got their bumper eaten by the car behind them.

That said, if you see someone waiting to cross the street, best you stop for them. It's not worth the consequences.

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