Jaywalking: Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

  1. Traffic Law
  2. Jaywalking: Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

Jaywalking is defined as “crossing or walking in the street or road unlawfully or without regard for approaching traffic.” The fine for jaywalking in North Carolina ranges anywhere from $24-$174 and is considered a crime. This seems intense for simply crossing the street, so why is jaywalking such a big deal?

Jaywalking is very dangerous. In 2010, 4,280 people were killed and 70,000 injured due to traffic accidents involving jaywalkers. 79% of these accidents took place on non-intersections with no crosswalk. Similar to traffic laws, pedestrian laws are put into place to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe.

Drivers and pedestrians are accustomed to crosswalk rules, so it’s easier for pedestrians to judge if they can safely cross, and vehicle traffic understands to adjust accordingly. When jaywalking, it’s more difficult for pedestrians to measure their safety, and drivers tend to be caught off guard by jaywalkers. This puts everybody in and outside of the vehicle at risk.

The most common argument on why jaywalking should be allowed is the idea that pedestrians have the right of way. However, when it comes to jaywalking, this isn’t always true. A pedestrian can be at fault if they:

  • Cross the street where there isn’t a crosswalk
  • Don’t follow traffic signals
  • Walk on a road closed to pedestrians
  • Walk in front of a car without giving the driver enough time to stop

So, when can you legally walk?

  • At an intersection
  • Where there is a crosswalk
  • Anywhere where there is a pedestrian walk sign

It’s important to stay safe and aware of the rules of the road. Pedestrians are largely at risk of getting hit. Any time a person is hit by a vehicle of any size, they’re likely to obtain serious injuries. Only walk in designated areas because anything else is considered jaywalking, and it isn’t worth the risk.

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