10

Do jaywalking laws apply mainly to areas with multi-lane roads and higher traffic, or do they apply even in smaller neighborhoods and 5 mph campgrounds? Is it considered illegal if, for example, I cross the street to visit a neighbor whose house is right in front of mine, separated only by a small road? I'll primarily apply this to U.S. law and assume that any state laws against jaywalking would be similar. I've looked for answers to this question but haven't found anything that directly addresses this issue.

If crossing the street is illegal even in such scenarios, are intersections the only valid way to cross the street in neighborhoods, assuming there are no marked crosswalks? If not, in what types of areas do jaywalking laws apply/not apply?

9
  • 8
    This depends dramatically on state, if not locale... jaywalking is at most a state law, and commonly at lower jurisdictions. There are HUGE differences state to state and town to town.
    – Joe
    Oct 8, 2021 at 19:40
  • 1
    As the answers have mentioned, pedestrians typically must yield the right of way to vehicle traffic anywhere besides a marked crosswalk, or at an uncontrolled intersection (where the crosswalk is presumed to exist whether it is marked or not). This has important implications for vehicle operators: as a driver, it is an infraction if you fail to yield to a pedestrian at an intersection. The mere presence of people near the intersection can sometimes be enough, in the "expert" eyes of a cop who is having a bad day, to justify a citation. Drive carefully. Oct 9, 2021 at 15:08
  • 2
    In practice, it should also be noted that jaywalking is seldom enforced in most of the US, except with respect to limited-access roads (freeways etc.) where pedestrians are completely prohibited. This does not make it legal, but a visiting non-American might be a tad confused if they saw, say, a group of Americans jaywalking right in front of a cop, without the cop doing anything about it.
    – Kevin
    Oct 9, 2021 at 21:05
  • There is no Federal law on this. There might be "model laws" (generic well-researched Code) put out by nonprofits or federal agencies to be adopted by states who don't want to reinvent the wheel... but I'm not aware of any on the jaywalking issue. Note that most states have laws defining where mid-block U-turns are allowed (e.g. single family residential not commercial/apartments). A jaywalking law could use that same distinction. Oct 9, 2021 at 21:18
  • Jaywalking isn't a real thing you should be worried about. Just don't worry about it.
    – user91988
    Oct 10, 2021 at 2:31

5 Answers 5

15

I believe the answer you seek can be found by searching for the terms "(desired state name) statutes pedestrian crossing."

In the case of the state of Florida, there are references to the situation you describe. Some of it appears slightly contradictory, but the ones that apply are not ambiguous:

(10) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

(12) No pedestrian shall, except in a marked crosswalk, cross a roadway at any other place than by a route at right angles to the curb or by the shortest route to the opposite curb.

The contradictory portion appears thus:

(11) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

There appears to be no reference regarding distances between adjacent intersections. It's unreasonable for one to be expected to walk a half mile (0.8 km) if there's a mile between intersections. There's an area nearby in which the traffic control signals are spaced about that distance apart.

Cities may have specific regulations regarding such activities.

15
  • 3
    Most residential neighborhoods I've seen (having lived in Florida for a while, though this is true pretty much everywhere else I've lived as well) do not have marked crosswalks anywhere to be seen. Those are only found on the main roads or near urban centers. If using a crosswalk were required everywhere, there are people in my neighborhood who I simply could not visit (except by car I guess), because their whole block is surrounded by roads with no marked crosswalks. So clearly exceptions were needed. Oct 8, 2021 at 13:33
  • 14
    I don’t see a contradiction here: (10) and (12) are general-case rules for crossing any road, and (11) is specifically for crossing a road that has street lights (“traffic control signals”) at each intersection. (10) doesn’t say you have to be in a marked crosswalk, only that if you aren’t, cars have right-of-way. (12) explicitly covers how you’re allowed to cross roads when not using a crosswalk. (11) says in some cases you do have to be in a marked crosswalk, but doesn’t apply to every road.
    – KRyan
    Oct 8, 2021 at 14:14
  • 2
    @GlenYates Yeah, I wasn't disagreeing with the points made here, just reinforcing them because without those exceptions made, most residential neighborhoods I know would basically be trapped from visiting anywhere else on foot. Oct 8, 2021 at 14:57
  • 3
    @DarrelHoffman But also key is that there is an implied crosswalk at every intersection. In any case, the law as stated for Florida makes perfect sense to me: crosswalk or intersection: pedestrian has right of way; other places - go straight across and vehicles have right of way. Oct 8, 2021 at 15:20
  • 1
    @GlenYates: I think you're slightly misinterpreting #11. Even in a street that has traffic lights at every intersection, you can still cross at unmarked crosswalks at intersections, because #11 only applies between intersections. (By the way, for #12 I think it's not just that you can follow a marked crosswalk that itself takes a crazy path, but also that you can take a crazy path within a normal marked crosswalk if you want. But, yeah.)
    – ruakh
    Oct 8, 2021 at 19:38
8

The rules for pedestrians are in Part 14 of the Road Rules (NSW rules linked but they are uniform across Australia).

The relevant rules are Nos 230 Crossing a road—general and 234 Crossing a road on or near a crossing for pedestrians

They say:

230(1) A pedestrian crossing a road—

(a) must cross by the shortest safe route, and

(b) must not stay on the road longer than necessary to cross the road safely.

and

234(1) A pedestrian must not cross a road, or part of a road, within 20 metres of a crossing on the road, except at the crossing or another crossing, unless the pedestrian is— [and I won't list the situational exemptions].

So, it is flat out illegal to cross within 20m of a crossing. It might be illegal if you don't cross by the "shortest safe route".

3
  • 1
    And it's probably also illegal on a limited-access motorway/freeway/expressway?
    – gerrit
    Oct 8, 2021 at 11:40
  • 3
    @gerrit it’s illegal to be a pedestrian on those roads (emergencies excepted)
    – Dale M
    Oct 8, 2021 at 12:11
  • 1
    For the Americans in the room who can't metric: 20 meters is about 65'7". A little more than the length of a bowling lane (you probably should include the distance from the lane to the seats as a better indicator.
    – hszmv
    Oct 8, 2021 at 14:40
7

Do jaywalking laws apply mainly to areas with multi-lane roads and higher traffic, ...

Yes, they only apply if the traffic density, driving speed, visibility or the flow of traffic require it. (§ 25(3) StVO)


Straßenverkehrs-Ordnung (StVO) § 25 Fußgänger
...
(3) Wer zu Fuß [Fußgänger] geht, hat Fahrbahnen unter Beachtung des Fahrzeugverkehrs zügig auf dem kürzesten Weg quer zur Fahrtrichtung zu überschreiten. Wenn die Verkehrsdichte, Fahrgeschwindigkeit, Sichtverhältnisse oder der Verkehrsablauf es erfordern, ist eine Fahrbahn nur an Kreuzungen oder Einmündungen, an Lichtzeichenanlagen innerhalb von Markierungen, an Fußgängerquerungshilfen oder auf Fußgängerüberwegen (Zeichen 293) zu überschreiten. Wird die Fahrbahn an Kreuzungen oder Einmündungen überschritten, sind dort vorhandene Fußgängerüberwege oder Markierungen an Lichtzeichenanlagen stets zu benutzen.

(3) Anyone who is walking [pedestrian] must cross the lanes quickly, taking into account vehicle traffic, using the shortest route across the direction of travel. If the traffic density, driving speed, visibility or the flow of traffic require it, a lane may only be crossed at intersections or junctions, at traffic lights within markings, at pedestrian crossing aids or on pedestrian crossings (sign 293). If the lane is crossed at intersections or junctions, existing pedestrian crossings or markings on traffic lights must always be used.

...

5

Just for information, as you've got Australian and German answers (quite apart from the reminder that within the US, statutes do vary significantly by location), I'd mention that there is no such offence in the United Kingdom where it's considered a personal responsibility to cross the road safely!

Well, just for @Community, despite the issues of attempting to prove a negative, here are the instructions as how to cross the road in the UK - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/rules-for-pedestrians-1-to-35

3
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Oct 9, 2021 at 15:49
  • Do you mean to imply that even in London, there's no infraction for crossing streets outside of the intersections?
    – David
    Oct 10, 2021 at 21:48
  • Not imply - that’s what I was stating. It excludes motorways (freeways) but you can cross regular streets wherever without penalty, as you used to be able to do in the US - youtu.be/vxopfjXkArM
    – Gwyn Evans
    Oct 10, 2021 at 21:57
3

Many laws have very boring preambles, which people tend to ignore: definitions, procedural rules, etc. One of those is the "Jurisdiction" or "Applicability" section, which states in which locations the law applies.

That is the section of interest here.

A campground is private property, and the roads there are not public roads. It would likely be excluded from jaywalking laws on that basis... unless the facility was of a nature that resembled a public road, and they had made arrangements with police to enforce on their roads. An arrangement like that is typically seen in shopping malls, for instance.

3
  • 3
    A campground is private property — not if it's a National Park, National Forest, BLM, State Park, or similar public campground?
    – gerrit
    Oct 8, 2021 at 11:40
  • 1
    @gerrit True. Harper was thinking of (and I had the same initial thought) a privately run campground - there is one near me (my evil twin fixes their computers). Oct 8, 2021 at 15:23
  • 2
    Nearest major big mall has signs at the main entrances (couldn't remember the exact language...thank you Google Maps Street View): "PRIVATE PROPERTY - UNDER JURISDICTION OF LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT". Which certainly means they have arrest powers for theft, vandalism, violent crimes, etc. but I have always understood to also mean that the normal State/County traffic laws are in force on the technically private roads. Oct 8, 2021 at 15:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.