pedestrian crosswalk, people crossing a road

Is Jaywalking Illegal?

Jaywalkers Beware: Police Officers Are on the Lookout for You

You have likely seen it around you or done it yourself, but jaywalking is illegal in New York. This is because jaywalking poses a threat to both pedestrians and drivers, resulting in countless traffic crashes. To put it into perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports one pedestrian was killed every 88 minutes in traffic crashes in 2017, while a total of 6,283 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in 2018.

These fatalities are preventable, which is why New York traffic laws cover both drivers and pedestrians. Police officers enforce these laws by issuing tickets for pedestrians who jaywalk.

With that being said, it’s important to know that jaywalking refers to crossing a street illegally, carelessly, or unsafely. For background, the word “jay” once referred to a foolish person who doesn’t navigate city streets properly. Although New York vehicle and traffic laws do not formally mention nor define “jaywalking,” the state enforces several laws related to jaywalking. Among the most common pedestrian violations include failure to yield the right-of-way to vehicles, failure to obey a pedestrian control signal, and failing to walk against traffic, all of which are variations of jaywalking.

NY V&T Law §1150

  • Pedestrians are subject to traffic control signals

NY V&T Law §1151

  • No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that the driver would not be able to yield

NY V&T Law §1152

  • Pedestrians crossing at any point other than a marked crosswalk/unmarked intersection crosswalk shall yield right of way to vehicles
  • Pedestrians crossing at a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing must yield right of way to vehicles.
  • No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices, and when authorized, only in accord with such traffic-control devices.

NY V&T Law §1156

  • It is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway if safe sidewalks are provided
  • If sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians walking along a roadway shall walk only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing approaching traffic. When vehicles approach, pedestrians shall move as far to the left as possible

When do Pedestrians have the Right of Way?

Pedestrians have the right of way in all crosswalks as well as intersections with marked or unmarked crosswalks. When a driver has a green light at an intersection, they must yield the right of way to pedestrians before turning right or left.

Thus, it is not considered jaywalking if a pedestrian crosses a marked crosswalk when they are allowed to do so. For instance, pedestrians can only cross a marked crosswalk if the “walk” signal indicates such. If they cross when the “walk” signal is NOT on, then such pedestrians are jaywalking and subject to a ticket.

We Are to Help

Cities like New York are crowded, bustling, and chaotic at times. People have places to be and will do anything necessary to get from point A to point B. However, this is dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. As such, not only can pedestrians get a ticket for jaywalking, but drivers may also get accused of reckless driving if they have a “close call” with a jaywalker. It’s not fair for a driver to get charged for a pedestrian’s wrongdoings, which is why you can count on us to defend your case.

To learn about your legal options, contact us at (212) 235-1525!

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