Is Jaywalking Illegal in Canada

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Is Jaywalking Illegal in Canada

Did you know that pedestrians are bound by traffic laws just like vehicles are? Crossing the street in a safe manner isn’t just a safety precaution. It’s a legal responsibility.

In Alberta, pedestrians are urged to:

  • Unplug: don’t be a distracted walker.
  • Make eye contact: don’t walk until traffic stops.
  • Be bright at night: wear reflectors.
  • Use crosswalks where available.
  • Cross at the curb wherever possible.

Jaywalking is defined as:

  • Crossing outside of a crosswalk.
  • Crossing after the walk light has ended.
  • Failing to obey traffic signs and control devices.

It is against the law in Edmonton to cross the roadway outside of a crosswalk. If there are no marked crosswalks, you may only cross the roadway at the intersection connecting sidewalks, curbs, or edges of the road.  That is, you use the unmarked crosswalk. 

“The unmarked crosswalk is the part of a roadway that connects 2 sidewalks, curbs, or edges of a road at an intersection where that roadway crosses another—think of an invisible line drawn corner to corner straight across the road. Unmarked crosswalks exist at all intersections unless a sign states otherwise.” Alberta.ca

When do pedestrians have the right of way?

Pedestrians do not automatically get the right-of-way. They receive it only after certain steps are taken.

Pedestrians must first approach the marked or unmarked crosswalk and indicate their desire to cross the street before entering the crosswalk. Technically pedestrians are supposed to stop and point across the street indicating they wish to cross. As a matter of practicality, most people simply wait by the curb. If there is a control device they can press the “Walk” button or wait for the signal to change. Pedestrians must also cross with the light that goes in the direction they are going.

Once they have entered the crosswalk (either marked or unmarked) drivers must yield the right of way. That is, they mustn’t start driving until the pedestrian has crossed. They must also give pedestrians adequate space to cross. 

If traffic hasn’t stopped or the light hasn’t changed, then you do not have the right of way. Pedestrians do not gain the right of way simply by darting out into traffic! 

In addition, if there is a peace officer controlling traffic in the crosswalk then the pedestrian must obey the peace officer’s instructions. 

Pedestrians Cause Accidents Too

While the vast majority of pedestrian accidents are caused by drivers, pedestrians can be found at fault for the accident as well. Any time a pedestrian breaks a traffic law or fails to make themselves visible at night they risk being found either fully at-fault or partially at-fault for the accident. Pedestrians can also be found partially at fault if they were impaired by drugs or alcohol while walking, as impairments can rob you of judgment. 

While pedestrians don’t do enough damage to drivers to risk a lawsuit if they cause the accident, the personal and financial consequences of being found at fault are difficult to overstate. It becomes difficult or impossible to recover compensation, meaning the pedestrian may only have their own insurance or public programs to fall back on.

This does not mean the law is not skeptical of claims that a pedestrian caused the accident. The law places a “reverse onus” on drivers in any pedestrian claim. 

What is the reverse onus?

In the normal course of a personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove through a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant was negligent and that their negligence led directly to the injuries being suffered by the plaintiff. They must also prove that the defendant was at fault. 

When a car strikes a pedestrian, the driver of that car will be the defendant and must prove through a preponderance of the evidence that the accident was not their fault. It’s generally assumed that the driver of the bigger, stronger vehicle is more likely to have caused the accident than the pedestrian. 

As mentioned, the statistics do support the view that drivers are usually at fault.

“Of the 478 collisions [in Edmonton] in which a driver struck a cyclist or pedestrian, just 51 involved people crossing without the right of way. And of the city’s 10 pedestrian fatalities last year, just one was crossing without the right of way.” StreetsBlog

Most drivers strike pedestrians in turn accidents, or when they run red lights. 

Nevertheless, drivers can and do prove that they are not responsible for pedestrian accidents. If you’re a pedestrian who has been hit by a car it is vital to contact a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible. 

How much is a jaywalking ticket in Edmonton? 

Jaywalkers can be ticketed and fined $250 if a police officer catches them in the act of jaywalking. Jaywalking just isn’t worth it. 

The Dangers of Texting While Walking

Edmonton admonishes pedestrians to “unplug” because distracted walking can be just as dangerous as distracted driving.

In 2016 Calgary rejected a law aimed specifically at distracted pedestrians, but that doesn’t mean that texting while walking doesn’t cause accidents. If the defense can claim you were engaged in this behavior they can increase your negligence percentage or perhaps even name you the at-fault party.

Of course, the number one reason to avoid texting while walking is to avoid getting hurt, but it’s worth considering the legal implications of the action as well.  You might not get a ticket, but you might end up with financial consequences you aren’t prepared for just the same. 

It’s even a good idea to remove your headphones any time you’re going to be passing through an intersection. This ensures you can hear traffic changes that might alert you when there is a danger. You can always put them back in when you’re safe on the other side of the street! 

Are you a pedestrian who has been injured by a vehicle? 

If you didn’t get a ticket for jaywalking then you might well have grounds for a personal injury case or claim. 

If you or one of your loved ones has been injured by a driver, don’t delay. The earlier you involve one of our experienced lawyers, the stronger your case is likely to be.

Call (780) 413-9777 to set up a risk-free consultation today. 

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