It's hard to believe the school season is upon us and another summer's on the verge of passing. With the community's children heading back to school, motorists can expect increased pedestrian traffic on our roadways in the mornings and afternoon hours when school lets out. Due to the increased pedestrian traffic, we will talk about laws that effect both pedestrians and motorists alike.

First, there is a common misconception that "pedestrians always has the right of way." This notion is not true; pedestrians also have a duty to yield the right-of-way on the roadway. For instance, if a pedestrian chooses to cross a roadway outside a marked or unmarked crosswalk they have to yield the right-of-way to any and all oncoming vehicles.

Pedestrians do however have the right away marked and unmarked crosswalks. A marked crosswalk is designated by two parallel lines that are generally found at intersections. Unmarked crosswalks are found at all intersections that intersect at approximate 90-degree angles even if there are no markings on the roadway. Once a pedestrian legally leaves a point of safety and enters a crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk oncoming motorists have a duty to yield the right of way to the pedestrian.

Now what actually constitutes a "jay walking" violation? Jay walking simply means a pedestrian crosses a roadway between two intersections that are controlled by traffic signals. A perfect example of such an intersection is Main Street and Luther Road and the traffic signal at the Raley's Shopping Center. The law requires pedestrians to use the crosswalks at the traffic signals where walk and don't walk signals are posted. It's important for children who walk to school to understand the difference between walk and don't walk signals at controlled intersections.

Parents should always teach children to look both ways before crossing the street even if they are crossing on a green "walk" signal. Generally, pedestrians will have a "walk" signal at the same time traffic moving in the same direction will have a green light; therefore, motorists making a right turn may not see pedestrian(s) until they are executing a right turn through the crosswalk.

Motorists should always exercise caution when approaching roadways with a lot of foot traffic and adhere to warning signs and signboards displaying such information. For example, the Red Bluff Police Department places an electronic signboard at the intersection of Main Street and Elm Street to alert motorists of the busy crosswalk ahead. Motorists should also be aware of school crossing guards who will generally be assigned to major crosswalks in front of schools. Again with school starting, it's a good idea to reduce speeds in school zones to account for our more inexperienced pedestrians and bicyclists.

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