A new law that went into effect on Oct. 1 in Connecticut requires motorists to yield to pedestrians who indicate that they wish to enter a crosswalk. The new rules are part of a bill signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont in June that contains several traffic safety measures. The legislation also allows cities and towns to revise speed limits and establish pedestrian safety zones without first seeking state approval.
Under the new rules, drivers must yield when pedestrians raise their hands or move any part of their body into a crosswalk. Motorists were previously only required to stop when pedestrians stepped off the curb and into the roadway. The law also prohibits motor vehicle occupants from opening their doors into the path of moving traffic or leaving their doors open for longer than necessary. This is known as dooring, and it is one of the leading causes of bicycle accidents in Connecticut. Drivers who violate the new pedestrian safety law will face a $500 fine.
Surge in pedestrian fatalities
Lawmakers decided to take action after a worrying rise in pedestrian fatalities. Car accidents claimed the lives of 54 pedestrians in Connecticut in 2019, but that figure grew by more than 15% in 2020 despite a sharp reduction in traffic volume. In the first eight months of 2021, 35 pedestrians were killed in Connecticut after being struck by motor vehicles. In addition to causing death and serious injury, pedestrian accidents put more pressure on an already strained health care system and burden the courts with personal injury lawsuits.
All road users are expected to conduct themselves in a responsible way, but many drivers act recklessly and place others in danger. This new law will to protect pedestrians and could reduce road deaths, and lawmakers should be praised for passing it.