Defer to Pedestrians

Transportation Article Section 21-801(h) Special Dangers as to Pedestrians or Other Traffic: You are instructed that it is the law of this State that at all times, consistent with the requirements of this section, the driver of a vehicle shall drive at an appropriate, reduced speed when any special danger exists as to pedestrians or other traffic or because of weather or highway conditions.

The rule is mood music for the jurors in a pedestrian crash case. It helps give walkers the benefit of the doubt in these cases.

The defendants may seek to get an instruction in pedestrian cases that pedestrian preference in a crosswalk is not absolute.  A pedestrian must still exercise reasonable care in crossing to avoid injury. So a pedestrian cannot cross blindly without looking for approaching traffic and may not race out into traffic into path of the vehicle giving the driver no opportunity to yield.  One of the few cases we have lost in recent years involved this very scenario.  The jury found our client raced into traffic and was hit in the crosswalk.  

One thing that was clear that case is that the crosswalk is sometimes bigger than the lines on the roadway suggest. The definition of a crosswalk is:

(i)   “Crosswalk” means that part of a roadway that is:

(1)   Within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at any place where 2 or more roadways of any type meet or join, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway;

(2)   Within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of a bicycle way where a bicycle way and a roadway of any type meet or join, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway; or

(3)   Distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings.

So there are unmarked crosswalks that are not identified and the size of the crosswalk may be larger than the lines suggest. 

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