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

Whether you’re a seasoned city dweller or a visitor exploring a new place, navigating busy streets can be a challenge. One common question pedestrians have is: can I jaywalk?

What is Jaywalking?

Jaywalking is the act of a pedestrian crossing a street at any place other than a marked crosswalk or intersection. This can include crossing in the middle of a block, diagonally across an intersection, or even against a red light. While it might seem like a harmless shortcut, jaywalking can be dangerous for both pedestrians and drivers.

Risks of Jaywalking

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), pedestrians are involved in a quarter of all traffic fatalities in the United States [1]. Jaywalking is a contributing factor in many of these accidents. When pedestrians don’t use crosswalks, they become unpredictable to drivers, increasing the chance of a collision. Additionally, jaywalking can lead to:

  • Injuries: Even a slow-moving car can cause serious injuries to a pedestrian.
  • Traffic congestion: Pedestrians who jaywalk can disrupt the flow of traffic, causing delays for drivers.
  • Fines: In most jurisdictions, jaywalking is a ticketable offense.

Jaywalking Laws in Missouri

Unlike some states with specific jaywalking statutes, Missouri doesn’t have a blanket law prohibiting jaywalking. However, pedestrian movement is still regulated by state statutes and local ordinances.

  • State Statutes

Missouri Revised Statutes § 304.15(1) focuses on pedestrian obedience to traffic signals. It states that pedestrians must obey traffic control devices, including pedestrian signals, just like drivers. This means pedestrians should only cross the street when they have a walk signal.

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Another relevant statute is § 304.14(1), which requires pedestrians to use a sidewalk when one is available and is “passable”. This applies to both sides of the street.

  • Local Ordinances

Many Missouri cities and municipalities have their own jaywalking ordinances that further regulate pedestrian movement. Here are a couple of examples:

* **Kansas City:**  Kansas City Municipal Code § 67-407 prohibits pedestrians from crossing at any place other than a marked crosswalk or within 100 feet of a marked crosswalk. It also forbids pedestrians from crossing against a red light or a “Don’t Walk” signal.

* **St. Louis:** St. Louis Code § 533.031 dictates that pedestrians must use marked crosswalks whenever available within 1,000 feet of an intersection. It also prohibits crossing against a red light or a “Don’t Walk” signal.

It’s important to note that these are just two examples, and jaywalking ordinances can vary by city. When visiting a new city in Missouri, it’s always best to check the local laws to ensure you’re following the rules.

  • Exceptions to Jaywalking Laws

There are some exceptions to jaywalking laws in Missouri. For instance, pedestrians who are unable to use a crosswalk due to a disability or because the crosswalk is blocked by a vehicle or construction may be permitted to cross outside a marked crosswalk with caution.

Penalties for Jaywalking in Missouri

The penalties for jaywalking in Missouri can vary depending on the specific jurisdiction. Here’s a general breakdown:

  • Fines: Fines for jaywalking in Missouri typically range from $10 to $50, although some cities may have higher fines.
  • Points on License: Jaywalking is a pedestrian violation and does not typically result in points being added to a driver’s license.
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Pedestrian Safety Tips

Even if jaywalking isn’t explicitly illegal everywhere in Missouri, it’s still a dangerous practice. Here are some tips for staying safe as a pedestrian:

  • Always use marked crosswalks whenever possible. Look both ways before crossing and make sure traffic has come to a complete stop before proceeding.
  • Obey traffic signals and pedestrian signals. Don’t cross against a red light or a “Don’t Walk” signal, even if it seems like there are no cars coming.

Pedestrian Safety Tips:

  • Be predictable. Walk in a straight line and avoid weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Maintain awareness. Pay attention to your surroundings and avoid distractions like talking on your phone or listening to headphones while crossing the street.
  • Make eye contact with drivers. This can help to ensure that they see you and are aware of your intention to cross.
  • Be extra cautious at night. Wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight if you must walk at night.
  • Use designated pedestrian paths and sidewalks whenever available.

Additional Tips for Specific Situations:

  • When approaching an intersection: Look out for turning vehicles, especially those making right turns on red lights.
  • In bad weather: Be extra cautious when walking in rain, snow, or fog. Drivers may have reduced visibility.
  • Around stopped buses: Never walk behind a stopped bus as you might not be seen by oncoming traffic.

Enforcing Pedestrian Safety

While jaywalking laws may not be universally enforced in Missouri, there are still measures in place to encourage pedestrian safety. These include:

  • Law enforcement: Police officers may issue citations to pedestrians who are caught jaywalking, especially if it creates a dangerous situation.
  • Public awareness campaigns: Many cities and safety organizations run campaigns to educate pedestrians about the dangers of jaywalking and the importance of following traffic safety rules.
  • Traffic light timing: Traffic signals are often timed to give pedestrians adequate time to cross intersections safely using designated crosswalks.
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Shared Responsibility for Safety

Ultimately, the safety of pedestrians is a shared responsibility. Pedestrians have a duty to act cautiously and follow traffic laws, while drivers have a responsibility to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and at intersections.

By following the tips outlined above and by working together, pedestrians, drivers, and law enforcement can all contribute to creating a safer walking environment in Missouri.

Conclusion

While there is no blanket jaywalking law in Missouri, pedestrians are still expected to follow traffic control devices and exercise caution when crossing streets. Understanding the relevant statutes and local ordinances, along with practicing safe walking habits, can significantly reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents.

Always prioritize safety over convenience and remember, a few extra minutes spent waiting at a crosswalk is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Additional Resources:

Disclaimer:

The information provided in this blog article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Laws and regulations are constantly changing, and you should consult with an attorney to get advice specific to your situation.

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