You may have heard that pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk, but what exactly does that mean for drivers? And, what about pedestrians crossing at an intersection without a marked crosswalk, or cutting across in the middle of the street?
Here’s a quick rundown of what the crosswalk laws of Massachusetts and New Hampshire require of drivers and pedestrians, and what those requirements mean for drivers who hit a pedestrian or a pedestrian who has been hit by a car.
Massachusetts Crosswalk Laws
Massachusetts law regarding marked crosswalks without operating traffic signals requires that:
- A driver yield to a pedestrian who is in the crosswalk in two circumstances:
- If the pedestrian is in the crosswalk on the side of the road where the vehicle is traveling, or
- If the pedestrian is approaching from the other side of the road and is within 10 feet of the half the vehicle is traveling in
The law also provides that no driver shall pass another driver who is stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross in a crosswalk, and that a driver may not enter the crosswalk when a pedestrian is crossing unless there is sufficient space on the other side to accommodate the vehicle–even if the traffic signal says the driver may proceed.
Violation of this statute carries a $200 fine, but the consequences may be more serious if a pedestrian is injured.
Pedestrians don’t have the right of way at intersections with signals if the Don’t Walk signal is displayed and vehicles have a green light. Pedestrians also don’t have the right of way when crossing at a point other than an intersection or marked crosswalk. Crossing in the middle of the street, also called “jaywalking,” is illegal in Massachusetts.
New Hampshire Crosswalk Laws
New Hampshire law regarding the priority of pedestrians in a marked crosswalk without active signals is similar to Massachusetts law. The vehicle must yield to a pedestrian who is in the crosswalk on the same side of the road as the vehicle, and to pedestrians approaching from the other side. However, unlike Massachusetts law, the New Hampshire law doesn’t provide a specific number of feet. Instead, it says “is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.”
New Hampshire law also prohibits a driver from passing another driver who is stopped to permit a pedestrian to cross in a crosswalk. But, New Hampshire does not add the requirement regarding refraining from entering the crosswalk until adequate space is available on the other side.
In addition, the New Hampshire statute includes this restriction on pedestrians:
No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
Crosswalk Accidents and Pedestrian Injuries
Violation of pedestrian safety regulations may be presented as evidence of negligence on the part of the driver who hits a pedestrian and causes injury. However, the way this evidence is weighed differs from state to state.
In New Hampshire, violation of a law intended to protect the public constitutes “negligence per se.” That means, for example, that a driver who violated the crosswalk law and failed to yield the right of way when required can be presumed negligent simply because he or she violated a safety regulation. That makes it somewhat easier for the injured person to establish a negligence claim.
Massachusetts does not recognize negligence per se. However, the fact that the driver violated a safety law can be considered as some evidence that the driver did not exercise reasonable care.
What if the Injured Pedestrian Was Partly Responsible?
If the pedestrian caused or contributed to the accident through their own negligence–for example, by stepping into the intersection in front of an oncoming vehicle, or attempting to cross in the middle of the street–the pedestrian may be found to be wholly or partly responsible for their own injuries.
The impact that will have on a personal injury claim depends on the degree of fault that lies with the pedestrian. If the injured pedestrian is not more than 50% responsible, they may be entitled to proportionate damages. For example, if the driver is found to have been 60% responsible and the pedestrian 40% responsible, the pedestrian might be awarded 60% of their damages. If the pedestrian is more than 50% responsible, no compensation would be available.
If you’re a pedestrian who has been injured in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, talk with an experienced personal injury attorney right away. Schedule your free consultation with attorney Kevin P. Broderick right now by calling 978-459-3085 or filling out the contact form on this site.
Have you been injured?
Let Attorney Kevin Broderick answer your questions and evaluate your personal injury or vehicle accident case for free!
CALL TODAY 978-459-3085
Kevin Broderick Law serves clients in Massachusetts and
Areas of service in
Areas of Service in
The information you obtain on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.