Thousands of pedestrians in Maryland are struck by motorists each year, often causing injury or death. There are safety laws in place that apply to both drivers and pedestrians aimed at reducing these crashes. Motor vehicle laws aimed at protecting pedestrians carry fines of up to $2,000 per violation, plus points for convicted violators. Together we can work to reduce and eliminate these preventable crashes and increase the safety of all roadway users.
Laws for Drivers
Drivers must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Drivers must come to a complete stop while a pedestrian crosses the street within a crosswalk if they are on the half of the roadway where their vehicle is traveling or approaching from an adjacent lane on the other half of the roadway.
Do not pass another vehicle that has stopped for a pedestrian. Passing a vehicle that has stopped for a pedestrian is illegal, regardless of whether the pedestrian is in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Unmarked crosswalks are areas where roads intersect but there are no specific crosswalk markings.
Always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in a crosswalk when turning at a green signal. Whether you’re turning right or left, you must always yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
Never block the crosswalk. When you come to a stop at a traffic signal or stop sign, stay clear of the crosswalk. Always stop at the clearly marked stop line prior to the crosswalk.
Yield to pedestrians when turning on red. When you’re turning right at a red light, pedestrians in the adjacent crosswalk have the right-of-way.
Exercise care regarding pedestrians. If a pedestrian appears confused, incapacitated, or unaware of your car, sound your horn, slow down and steer away from them. If they are endangering themselves or at risk of causing a crash, call 9-1-1.
Drive at reduced speeds in areas dangerous for pedestrians or where high pedestrian traffic is expected. In addition to adhering to all posted speed limits, be mindful of areas dangerous for pedestrians and slow down accordingly. School zones, neighborhood streets and parking lots are all examples where increased pedestrian traffic is expected, so be sure to reduce your speed and remain alert.
Laws for Pedestrians
Always obey red traffic signals. If the light is red, do not enter the crosswalk or roadway.
Obey the pedestrian crossing signal. If the crossing signal shows an orange raised hand or a solid “don’t walk” stay out of the road and don’t cross, even if there is no traffic.
When not at a crosswalk, always give vehicles the right-of-way. If you must cross anywhere other than a crosswalk or intersection, always give cars and other vehicles the right-of-way.
You must use marked crosswalks when available. If there are traffic control signals or marked crosswalks nearby, you must use them.
Never cross intersections diagonally. Unless directed by traffic control signals or a police officer, you should never cross an intersection diagonally.
Always use sidewalks if they are available. Pedestrians should not walk along the roadway if there is a sidewalk available. If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic on the left shoulder or on the left side of the road.
Making the Roads Safer for Our Most Vulnerable Users
In 2021 the Maryland Vulnerable Road User law took effect. This law mandates stricter penalties for causing harm to vulnerable individuals while operating a motor vehicle. As per the law, a “vulnerable individual” can be a pedestrian, cyclist, road worker or emergency personnel, among others. Any individual charged with a violation of this law must appear in court. A conviction can carry fines up $2,000, participation in a motor vehicle safety course and up to 150 hours of community service. The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration will suspend a convicted driver’s license for a minimum of seven days and up to six months.
Maryland continues to work hard to make our roads safer for vehicles and pedestrians. This effort must include all of us to achieve our goal of zero deaths on the state’s roadways.