As s a driver, you might sometimes be a bit confused by what to do when you see a pedestrian standing by or seemingly about to enter a crosswalk. Do you honk and proceed carefully? Stop? Yield? A new New Jersey traffic law focuses on pedestrian safety is coming soon.

New Law Introduced

That ambiguity no longer exists concerning marked crosswalks in New Jersey. As of April 1 of this year, a state law focused on increased pedestrian safety requires motorists to stop and wait for pedestrians crossing marked intersections. To put some awareness and teeth into that requirement, state police have recently been engaging in a crackdown campaign that is resulting in fines and license penalties for some New Jersey drivers. Cops in Crosswalks is a federally funded program pursuant to which 13 state police departments have received $8,000 grants each to patrol marked crosswalks, educate, and occasionally ticket motorists. The program started July 15 and will conclude in mid-September. There has been confusion on the part of motorists. Pam Fischer, the state's Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director, says the statutory change was necessary because the previous requirement - yielding - resulted in uncertainties at crosswalks. By changing the language ... from yield to stop," says Fischer, "motorists now know that when they approach a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk, they must stop and remain stopped to allow that pedestrian to cross safely." In the ongoing campaign, an officer will typically pose - out of uniform - as a pedestrian and take steps into a marked crosswalk. Some drivers stop. Some don't, and they are met down the street by other officers who might simply speak with them about the new law or ticket them and place unwanted points on their driver's licenses.

Goal of the New Law

Although one driver recently called the operation "pure entrapment," Fischer strongly supports it, noting that the percentage of pedestrians killed yearly in New Jersey is double the national rate. The goal, says Fischer, is "zero fatalities" when it comes to pedestrian accidents. Related Resource: "NJ crosswalk law crackdown" July 15, 2010