Pedestrian Safety: Jaywalking

RENO, Nev. -- It seems like a daily occurrence when you see people dash across the street without using the sidewalk. Lawfully, it's called jaywalking, but the culprits won't necessarily get fined for doing it. Here is a closer look at the laws for pedestrian safety.

Many people cross the street at their convenience with or without a sidewalk.

"They put cameras up to catch people running red lights, why not people not obeying the crosswalks?" One local woman asked.

"Anytime a pedestrian crosses a street that's not in a marked cross walk, they can do so as long as they don't impede traffic and as long as they walk a straight line across the street," Sgt. Joe Robinson, Reno Police Department said.

That means pedestrians can't cross the middle of the street diagonally because drivers can't see them as well and that's more than enough time they need to spend on any street.

Jaywalking is normally a minor offense, but if people are caught jaywalking, it can be serious.

"A lot of our vehicle vs pedestrian accidents, I would say a majority of them, the pedestrians are more at fault than the actual driver is," Sgt. Robinson said.

The fine is no small fee either. If you get cited for jaywalking, it's a 125 dollar fine--the equivalent to about three parking tickets.

"Essentially you commit a misdemeanor crime when you jaywalk," Sgt. Robinson said.

Many pedestrians think they have the right-of-way at all times, which is true in a marked crosswalk, but that doesn't always guarantee safety.

"Is the right-of-way worth your life? Make sure everyone stops for you," Sgt Robinson said. "Drivers are just as human as everybody else and they make mistakes also."

Also, if the red hand comes up at the crosswalk and you're still crossing, you are breaking the law.

To make sure drivers see you, make eye contact or wave at them whenever you cross the street, even at a crosswalk.

"You might have to walk a half block further, but there's always one available, especially in the city of Reno," he said.

Sgt. Robinson says they will be leading three crosswalk stings in downtown Reno during the summer months starting on May 18.

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