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Understanding Pennsylvania’s crosswalk laws

Whether you live downtown or prefer to stay in the country, everyone is a pedestrian at some point. It may be visiting shops on Main Street, running errands or just walking to your car. However, as a pedestrian, you are vulnerable in the event of an accident with a car.

According to reports by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GSHA), pedestrian deaths in accidents have steadily increased over the past three decades. In 2018, there were 6,200 pedestrian fatalities because of car accidents.

As both a driver and pedestrian, it’s important to understand Pennsylvania’s laws when it comes to crosswalks in order to keep everyone safe on the roads. In crosswalks without traffic lights:

  • The pedestrian using the crosswalk has the right-of-way and the driver must yield. This does not apply when pedestrians cross streets outside of a crosswalk.
  • Pedestrians must exercise care, meaning they should not step off the sidewalk if it would be a hazard to approaching vehicles.
  • Vehicles behind those stopped for pedestrians at crosswalks should not pass the stopped vehicle.
  • Drivers in violation of right-of-way laws may receive a fine of $50.

According to these laws, responsibility for safe use of crosswalks is on both the driver and pedestrian. As a person traveling on foot, you must exercise caution and use crosswalks. As the individual in a vehicle, you must yield to pedestrians.

GSHA reports that only 25% of pedestrian accidents resulting in a fatality occurred at an intersection. The majority, 74%, happen on parts of the road that are not an intersection, including some crosswalks. 76% of these incidents also occur in the dark, reminding us that it’s important for pedestrians to wear easily seen clothing and for drivers to be alert to their presence.

While every incident is different and the fault of an accident must be determined on a situational basis, it’s important for both drivers and pedestrians to take responsibility for keeping our roads safe.