Pedestrians; motorists to stop for those at marked crosswalks. (HB2945)

Introduced By

Del. Jackson Miller (R-Manassas)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Stopping for pedestrians. Amends the statute that presently requires motorists to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians to require that motorists stop for pedestrians. The bill also gives all localities the option to provide for the installation of signs at marked crosswalks and to increase fines. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

DateAction
01/10/2007Committee
01/10/2007Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/07 079046419
01/10/2007Referred to Committee on Transportation

Comments

Waldo Jaquith writes:

What the summary doesn't explain is that the bill eliminates the requirement that drivers yield to pedestrians crossing roads. This bill would consequently make pedestrians safe only in crosswalks, and declare open season on pedestrians crossing any place without crosswalks.

This seems bad.

Todd Rich writes:

The bill does eliminate the statutory right of way for pedestrians who are not in a crosswalk. This strikes me as a good thing. The law should encourage all users to obey the law, rather than give incentives for breaking it. If a vehicle strikes a pedestrian who negligently crosses a road where there is no crosswalk, and NOT at an intersection, it should not be presumed to be the driver's fault.

I find it more than a little silly to say that this change would result in "open season" on pedestrians. Pedestrians still have the right of way at intersections and in crosswalks. Drivers will not suddenly decide that it's a good idea to hit a pedestrian.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Todd, you're coming from an urban mindset. There's not a crosswalk within 10 miles of my home.

jon writes:

By all appearances, this amendment should do nothing other than eliminate negligence per se against non-negligent drivers who strike negligent pedestrians in urban areas.

Let's say you're a pedestrian in a city 50 feet from a crosswalk, but you decide to dash across traffic right where you are. You misjudge vehicle speed, and don't see that little old lady who was slightly behind a big truck in the far lane - and she hits you. And let's assume she was driving under the speed limit.

Who is negligent here? Under the current law, the little old lady is negligent per se, which is just a fancy way of saying that there's a presumption of negligence because she injured somebody while breaking a law designed to prevent that kind of injury. But we all know it was the pedestrian who was negligent. The little old lady didn't do anything wrong.

All this really does is prevent the plaintiff in this case from being able to argue to the jury that the little old lady was guilty of violating § 46.2-924.

Now change it to a rural setting. Still have the car driving at the speed limit. The vehicle hits Waldo's neighbor crossing Rt. 20 at her mailbox. Old law - the driver committed a crime AND is negligently liable for the person's injuries. New law - the driver is still going to be liable in tort for the injuries, but simply won't be guilty of a crime.

Pedestrians are going to recover in either event, both the negligent one in the city and the rural one. But this will make it a lot harder for negligent city pedestrians, and might encourage crosswalk use. Don't see it having much impact, if any impact at all, on rural pedestrians/drivers.

Oh, and one more point on the first scenario. Virginia has what's called "The Last Clear Chance" doctrine to take some of the sting out of contributory negligence. Technically, if a plaintiff in an injury suit is negligent at all - like the pedestrian here - they can't recover. In most states, the jury assigns percentages to each party's fault, but in Virginia a plaintiff loses if they're even 1% at fault. BUT, if the defendant had the "last clear chance" to avoid the accident, they're liable even if the plaintiff was negligent.

So... even if this amendment passes, and even if a sweet, non-negligent little old lady strikes a very negligent pedestrian not in a crosswalk, that pedestrian could STILL recover damages if they can show that the old lady had the last clear chance to avoid hitting them. Which just means - "Did she have a chance to hit the brakes?" Yes? Old lady pays. No? Pedestrian has some steep medical bills, which is a pretty fair result, IMHO.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

Now that's an interesting explanation, Jon. Thanks for that.

Tom James writes:

Curious?

How do you get the local Sheriff's office to enforce this law, if it was one of their personnel, who hit the pedestrian in the crosswalk? You ask for the state police to investigate instead of the local sheriff's dept, but because it is on private property, Wal-Mart, the State Police claim no jurisdiction?

And the Chief Magistrate deceides to protect the Sheriff instead of the 79 year old woman they hit and sent to the ER with a concusion? All on Wal-Mart video tape.

Then the 79 year old woman has to fight the Sheriff's insurance for 2 years before having to hire an attorney to collect on her medical expenses.

(Hanover County, Sheriff Cook, Undercover Investigator McCalister, Chief Magistrate Hemming)

(Oh yea, refer to bill trying to make it tougher for a citizen to file a warrant against a law enforcement officer or school offical while in the execution of their duties.)

They don't have enough protection by already controlling the system?