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Legal reform to help enforce “stop for pedestrians in crosswalk” laws

America Walks, with the assistance of Portland, Oregon law firm Swanson, Thomas, Coon, and Newton, have developed legal language to strengthen state laws requiring automobiles to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.  The language was developed specifically for Oregon, but may be of use as a model to other jurisdictions.

Like many jurisdictions' law enforcement agencies, Oregon police did not feel that they had a clear legal definition for the meaning of the phrase, "in a crosswalk."  This uncertainty in the law was identified as contributing to a failure to enforce the existing crosswalk law.  While the language of Oregon's existing law itself has remained the same, a short, legally-enforceable definition was added.  This definition helps to clarify what constitutes being "in a crosswalk" and is anticipated to strengthen the ability of the police to enforce the state's "stop for pedestrians in crosswalk" law.  The definition is as follows:

"A pedestrian is crossing the roadway in a crosswalk when ANY PART OR EXTENSION OF  A PEDESTRIAN, including but not limited to ANY PART OF THE PEDESTRIAN'S BODY, WHEELCHAIR, CANE, CRUTCH, OR BICYCLE, MOVES INTO THE ROADWAY IN A CROSSWALK with the intent to proceed."