Who is Responsible for Crosswalk Safety?

Crosswalk safety is a shared responsibility

not just between the driver and the pedestrian,

but also with government, transportation,

and police departments.

Thought Provoker:

Are provincial, state and municipal officials, and police departments doing enough to improve crosswalk safety?


Certainly some have implemented tools to improve crosswalk safety, but I suggest many can do so much more. Each department should ask themselves what improvements have they implemented in the past five to ten years, and whether there are others (see the Improving Safety page) they could put in place.


It is often suggested the responsibility for crosswalk safety is shared between only the driver and the pedestrian. I believe this view is short-sighted, that there are five groups who can and should constantly contribute to improved crosswalk safety.

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1)   Government:


Government, both provincial and municipal have a responsibility to protect its citizens. Through legislation and funding measures, improving crosswalk safety can be authorized and implemented.


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2)   Transportation Departments:


Transportation departments, again both provincial and municipal, have a responsibility to improve crosswalk safety.  This can be achieved through education and implementation of measures to increase the visibility of both the crosswalk and the pedestrian.

3)   Police:

As evidenced by the following media Headlines a number of police forces have taken initiatives to address crosswalk safety.

“Decatur Police Targeted Crosswalk Offenders”

“Decatur Police Implement Crossswalk Education and Enforcement Activity”

(Decatur, Georgia)

“Police conducting targeted enforcement at 14 crosswalks in Walk to Work Week education”

(Ann Arbour, Michigan)

“Police get cross about crosswalks – Rise in pedestrian deaths and injuries sparks stricter enforcement, education

(Robbinsdale, Minnesota)

Enforcement is a significant component of crosswalk safety.  Police have an obligation not only to provide education, but also to enforce the Motor Vehicle Act.  Please see the Statistics page in the Facts and Studies section for some data on enforcement in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Some jurisdictions, such as Worcester, Massachusettes, have been quite proactive in conducting enforcement operations, as evidenced by this example:

As well here are a few informative articles on proactive initiatives a number of police departments have taken

Chicago, Illinois


Decatur, Georgia  


Robbinsdale, Minnesota  


Returning to the Thought Provoker => if these cities can take proactive enforcement initiatives all police forces should be able to do the same; challenge your police department to be proactive both in educating the public and enforcing crosswalk legislation.

4)   Drivers:

Drivers have the legal responsibility to yield the right of way to a pedestrian:

… lawfully within a crosswalk or stopped facing a crosswalk.”

This responsibility can best be achieved if drivers avoid distractions, e.g. stay off their cell phones when driving, keep within the speed limit and always be attentive to their surroundings, including pedestrians.


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5)   Pedestrians:

Ultimately, regardless of the successes or failures of the above groups it is the pedestrian who most suffers if an incident occurs. Pedestrians need to be smart and attentive when approaching and crossing a crosswalk.

Never assume a driver will yield or stop.

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As a pedestrian you have the most to lose.  There is no comfort in being right if you are seriously injured … or worse.

… be Cautious … be Seen … be Safe
… be Responsible