Is It Illegal to Jaywalk in Maryland? Here’s What the Law Says

Anyone who has ever walked in a city has likely jaywalked at some point. Jaywalking is the act of a pedestrian crossing a street at a location other than a designated crosswalk or against a traffic signal. While it may seem like a harmless shortcut, jaywalking can be dangerous for both pedestrians and drivers.

This blog post will delve into the laws surrounding jaywalking in Maryland. We’ll explore the specific situations that can be considered jaywalking offenses, the penalties for getting caught, and most importantly, how to stay safe as a pedestrian on Maryland’s streets.

Risks of Jaywalking

Before we dive into the legalities, let’s address the inherent dangers of jaywalking. Pedestrians are much more vulnerable than drivers in a collision. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, pedestrian fatalities accounted for 17% of all traffic deaths in the United States.

Jaywalking increases the risk of pedestrian accidents in several ways:

  • Reduced visibility: Drivers expect pedestrians to use crosswalks, making it harder to see someone jaywalking, especially at night or in poorly lit areas.
  • Less time to react: When a pedestrian suddenly appears in the roadway, drivers have less time to brake or swerve to avoid a collision.
  • Unpredictable behavior: Erratic movements by jaywalkers can make it difficult for drivers to anticipate their actions.

Maryland Jaywalking Laws

Maryland, like most states, has laws in place to regulate pedestrian behavior and promote safety on its roadways. Here’s a breakdown of situations that can be considered jaywalking offenses in Maryland:

  • Crossing at Intersections and Marked Crosswalks: This is the safest and legal way for pedestrians to cross the street. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked crosswalks when the pedestrian signal indicates it’s safe to cross.
  • Crossing at Unmarked Crosswalks (Without Traffic Signals): In areas without traffic signals, pedestrians can legally cross the street at intersections, even if there’s no marked crosswalk. However, they must yield the right-of-way to vehicles.
  • Crossing at Unmarked Crosswalks (With Traffic Signals): If there’s a traffic signal at an intersection, pedestrians must use the marked crosswalk to cross the street, even if it’s inconvenient. Crossing anywhere else at a signalized intersection is considered jaywalking.
  • Crossing Against a Signal: This is a clear violation, regardless of whether there are any cars around. Pedestrians must obey traffic signals and cross only when the pedestrian signal indicates it’s safe.
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Other Pedestrian Safety Laws in Maryland

Maryland has additional laws in place to protect pedestrians:

  • Drivers must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. This applies when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway where the driver’s vehicle is traveling or approaching from an adjacent lane.
  • Passing a vehicle stopped for a pedestrian is illegal, regardless of whether the pedestrian is in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
  • Pedestrians have the right-of-way at marked crosswalks with a flashing yellow light. However, they should still use caution and be aware of oncoming traffic.

Penalties for Jaywalking in Maryland

While jaywalking might not seem like a serious offense, getting caught can result in a citation from a police officer. The fine for jaywalking in Maryland can range from $80 to $500, depending on the severity of the violation. In addition to the fine, jaywalking can also lead to points being added to your driver’s license, which can increase your insurance rates.

Tips for Safe Walking in Maryland

Here are some essential tips for staying safe as a pedestrian in Maryland:

  • Always Use Crosswalks: This is the safest and most legal way to cross the street. Look for marked crosswalks whenever possible, and use them even if it means walking a little further.
  • Obey Traffic Signals: Pay attention to pedestrian signals and cross only when it absolutely! Let’s continue with the blog post on Maryland jaywalking laws and pedestrian safety:
  • Obey Traffic Signals (continued): Pay attention to pedestrian signals and cross only when it indicates it’s safe. Don’t jaywalk in front of moving traffic, even if you think you can make it across quickly.
  • Be Predictable: Walk in a straight line and avoid weaving in and out of traffic. This will make it easier for drivers to see you and anticipate your movements.
  • Make Eye Contact with Drivers: When crossing the street, make eye contact with drivers at intersections to ensure they see you. This can help to avoid situations where a driver might not be aware of your presence.
  • Avoid Distractions: Put away your phone and other electronic devices while walking. Distractions can take your attention away from your surroundings and increase the risk of an accident.
  • Be Extra Cautious at Night: Drivers have a harder time seeing pedestrians at night. Wear reflective clothing and use a flashlight when walking in low-light conditions.
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Encouraging Safe Walking Habits

Following these tips can significantly reduce your risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident. However, promoting a culture of pedestrian safety goes beyond individual actions.

Here are some additional points to consider:

  • Improved Infrastructure: Cities and towns in Maryland can play a crucial role in promoting pedestrian safety by investing in infrastructure improvements such as wider sidewalks, designated crosswalks, and better lighting in high-pedestrian areas.
  • Traffic Calming Measures: Implementing traffic calming measures like speed bumps and roundabouts can encourage drivers to slow down and be more aware of pedestrians.
  • Public Education Campaigns: Raising awareness about pedestrian safety laws and best practices through public education campaigns can help both pedestrians and drivers understand their roles in keeping our streets safe.

Conclusion

Jaywalking can be tempting, especially when you’re in a hurry. However, the risks to your safety and the potential consequences simply aren’t worth it. By following the laws, practicing safe walking habits, and advocating for improved pedestrian infrastructure, we can all work together to create safer streets for everyone in Maryland.

Additional Resources

Remember, following the law and prioritizing safety is paramount. Make smart choices and walk confidently, knowing your rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian in Maryland.

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