Do you walk into crosswalks while the hand is flashing? It could cost you

Every day, thousands of pedestrians break the law at B.C. crosswalks – and many of them probably don’t even realize it.  But whether they know it or not, entering the crosswalk when the orange hand is flashing is illegal, and can even cost pedestrians a painful $109 fine.

Const. Jason Doucette of the Vancouver Police Department said there’s one simple rule to remember: if you don’t see the white walk signal, don’t leave the curb.  “If the countdown clock’s already started, it’s too late,” he said.

While Vancouver police prefer to let first-time offenders off with a warning, they still dished out almost 400 of the fines in 2017 alone.  “We’re not afraid of giving tickets, we just want to accomplish the goal of keeping everyone safe,” Doucette said.

Across the province, about 1,000 tickets were handed out last year for the infraction, which is clearly laid out in Section 132 of the Motor Vehicle Act.  According to the law, pedestrians aren’t allowed to step onto the road when they see a raised hand or the words “don’t walk” or “wait.”

Winston Chou from the City of Vancouver’s traffic management department said the intention behind the law is to protect people from drivers who are trying to make a left- or right-hand turn at the intersection.  When pedestrians continue entering the crosswalk against a flashing hand, drivers will often edge further and further forward looking for gaps to sneak through – potentially putting people at risk.

“The motorist is getting frustrated, the motorists behind them are getting frustrated,” Chou said. “They’re going to try to cross quickly, they’re going to try and fit through gaps in pedestrians, and that’s just not good.”

The latest ICBC statistics show there were 3,100 people hit by vehicles in B.C. in 2016, and 63 of them were killed. Chou said turning vehicles are one of the most common types of accidents in Vancouver.

With 800 light-controlled intersections in the city, the likelihood of getting a fine for the infraction is low – but the odds of getting hit are still substantially greater when people try to rush across the road.

“Road safety is a shared responsibility,” Doucette said. “Part of your responsibility as a pedestrian is to hold off and wait for the appropriate time to cross.”

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