When a vehicle strikes a pedestrian who is attempting to cross the street, it can inflict painful, disabling or even fatal injuries. Connecticut lawmakers, aware of the horrific impact of many pedestrian accidents, have passed new laws to give pedestrians greater protection.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation explains how these new laws instruct drivers to be more careful when pedestrians are about to cross the street. Additionally, the legislation addresses the problem of dooring and the use of phones by people while they are driving.
Drivers must yield to pedestrians
Under prior legislation, motorists had to yield to pedestrians who had stepped off a curb or onto a crosswalk. With the new laws, drivers now have to slow or stop if pedestrians are within any portion of a crosswalk or are on a curb at the entrance of a crosswalk and signal an intention to cross. A failure to yield to a pedestrian in these instances may result in a $500 fine.
Pedestrians can signal they want to cross by raising an arm or a hand or extending any body part into the crosswalk entrance. Additionally, pedestrians may place a walking aid, wheelchair, a bicycle, stroller, cart, or even a leashed dog into the crosswalk to show they intend to cross.
Dooring is illegal
Some cyclists experience serious injury when a car door suddenly opens in front of them and they cannot stop or turn to avoid it. The state’s new laws make dooring illegal. Now drivers cannot open a door if moving traffic proceeds at a reasonable speed. Additionally, drivers cannot keep a door open longer than necessary for passengers to board or disembark a vehicle.
Penalties for phone use will increase
Using a phone while driving can distract a motorist and increase the risk of a pedestrian injury. The new laws address this issue by increasing the fines for phone use. Previously, a first offender has to pay a fine of $150. Now, first offenders now pay $200. Second offenders will have to pay $375, and third and subsequent offenses will incur a $625 fine.
While this new legislation will not stop every pedestrian accident from happening, it will provide greater accountability in the event a driver does not heed the safety of nearby pedestrians. In the event of a serious personal injury, it is also possible to hold the negligent party accountable by seeking damages.