Pedestrian Safety: Explaining the New Rules for Crossovers and Crosswalks
As we to look to warmer weather we recognize that there will be more and more pedestrians on the road. That’s why it is timely to pay attention to a new piece of legislation intended to make crossing streets safer for pedestrians. Part of the Making Ontario Roads Safer Act, the new rules that were put in place January 1, 2016 are intended to improve the safety of pedestrians who are crossing the road at marked locations.
Accidents involving pedestrians—and sadly, often children—are all too common in Canada. Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable in road accidents as they are unprotected, and if struck by a vehicle, are more like to sustain a serious injury or worse. Sadly, many of these accidents involve children, In a car vs pedestrian situation, the car will always win.
While some pedestrian fatalities can be attributed to a fault of the person on foot—such as crossing mid-block or without the right of way (against the light)— much of time the accident can be attributed to driver error, such as rushing or inattention.
The goal of the legislation is to create a safe walking environment by ensuring that pedestrians are safely out of the crossing before a vehicle resumes movement. Since so many of these incidents involve children, the new rules will greatly enhance child safety. In addition to the penalties imposed by the law, injuries and fatalities will be reduced by combining education and improved design and marking of pedestrian crossings.
This new law may be confusing for both pedestrians and motorists due to the difference in commonly used language, such as the use of the word crosswalk.
Pedestrian crossover: identified by specific signs, pavement markings, and lights. Crossovers have illuminated overhead lights and/or warning signs and pedestrian push buttons. You may commonly refer to this type of crossing as a crosswalk.
Crosswalk: crossing location usually found at intersections with traffic signals, pedestrian signals or stop signs. Crosswalks may be the portion of the roadway that connects the sidewalk on opposites sides of the road or the portion of the roadway that is indicated for crossing by signs, lines, or markings.
Beginning January 1, 2016, all Ontario drivers, including cyclists, must stop and yield at the roadway types specified and must not proceed until the pedestrian is out of the intersection and safely off the roadway.
There are two types of crossings covered by the new law:
- Pedestrian crossovers that are marked with specific signs, road markings, and lights.
- School crossings where there is a crossing guard displaying the school crossing sign.
Crossings not covered by the law:
-Pedestrian crosswalks at intersections with stop signs or traffic signals unless a school crossing guard is present.
Additionally, beginning on January 1, 2016, municipal road authorities will have the option to install one of 3 new types of crossovers that are comprised of black and white pedestrian crossing signs and painted road lines.
For all specified crossings, motorists and cyclists will have to wait until pedestrians have completely crossed the road before moving. If they do not, they may receive a fine and demerit points.
Fines and Penalties
Violators will be subject to a fine ranging from $150 to $500 plus a penalty of 2 demerit points. Fines will be doubled in Community Safety Zones—generally located near schools and public areas—that are marked by signs.
While this legislation is an important step forward in improving road safety for everyone, it is up to both pedestrians and drivers to be smart and keep roads safe. Here are a few tips from the Ministry of Transportation for staying safe on the road.
Pay attention and do not assume that all drivers and cyclists are going to cede right of way and walk defensively and according to the rules of the road.
- Cross only at marked crosswalks or traffic lights. Do not cross in the middle of the block or between parked cars.
- Make sure drivers see you before you cross. If the driver is stopped, make eye contact before you step into the road so they know your intention.
- Wear bright or light-coloured clothing or reflective strips, especially at dusk or when it is dark.
- When at a traffic light:
-Cross when traffic has come to a complete stop.
-Begin to cross at the start of the green light or “Walk” signal.
-Do not start to cross if you see a flashing “Do Not Walk” symbol or the light turns yellow. If you already started to cross, complete your crossing as quickly as possible.
- Never cross on a red light.
- Watch for traffic turning at intersections or turning into and leaving driveways.
- Watch for pedestrians, drive carefully and courteously, and follow the rules of the road.
- Always look to see if a pedestrian is in the crossing, especially before making a turn.
- Watch for children. Drive slowly and cautiously through school zones, residential areas, or any other area where children could be walking or playing.
- Watch out for Community Safety Zone signs that indicate areas where public safety is a special concerns and drive more carefully.
- Be patient, especially with seniors or pedestrians with disabilities who need more time to cross the road.
- Drive carefully near streetcar stops with islands or zones for passengers getting on and off. Pass them at reasonable speeds, and be ready to stop if pedestrians make sudden or unexpected moves.
If you have you or someone you know was injured while crossing the road, please contact us today.