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Lessons in Jaywalking

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader


According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic crashes in the U.S. took the lives of 5,376 pedestrians in 2015. Approximately 70,000 more are injured each year.

A pedestrian is defined as a person who is walking near a road. Deaths and injuries of pedestrians are on the rise each year. It makes sense. The more distracted walkers and drivers become with their phones, the number of accidents increases.

While crossing a fairly busy downtown street recently, a passing motorist yelled at me, “Wait next time!” He was turning left onto the street I was crossing. Apparently, he was upset that he had to slow down and wait for me to cross. I think the angry man made a good point. After he yelled, I looked at the signal and noticed it was flashing red. I still had a few seconds left to get out of the road.

I wasn’t looking at my phone when I entered crossed the street. I hadn’t been drinking. Maybe I was distracted. Or maybe I’m an aggressive walker.

What are the rules for street crossing? Walk on green. Okay. Walk on “Walk”. Got it. Flashing green or flashing “Walk?” Sure. Keep on walking.

What if a pedestrian begins her crossing when the signal’s timer displays enough time to cross the street? Well, like most things involving rules and regulations, there are specific laws for when pedestrians may and may not cross.

Pursuant to Indiana law, a flashing or steady “Walk” signal means that a pedestrian facing that signal may proceed across a roadway. All motorists are required to yield to the walker. A steady “Don’t Walk” means a walker may not start to cross the roadway. Interestingly, a flashing “Don’t Walk” signal also means that a pedestrian may not start to cross the roadway. A walker who finds herself in the crosswalk when the signal turns from “Walk” to “Don’t Walk” must
proceed to a sidewalk while the “Don’t Walk” signal shows.

Being a lawful pedestrian can get a bit tricky at times. But, being a safe pedestrian is fairly manageable. Walkers need to be on the look out for other walkers, joggers, skateboarders, cars, bikes, cabs, trucks and buses. Don’t stare at your phone screens. Don’t watch a show or check Instagram while you are walking near roads.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drunk pedestrians are involved in 34% of pedestrian fatalities. So, whether sober or under the influence pedestrians should always look both ways before crossing every street – even one-way streets. Use the crosswalks. Stand back from busy roads.

Next time I’ll follow the angry man’s advise. Wait for the “Walk” signal.


Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.