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Pedestrian Laws Are Specific

By Staff | Jun 21, 2011

How many times have you been driving down the street when a person begins crossing the street in a crosswalk ahead of you? What do you do? Do you slow and let them proceed, or do you keep your speed and let the “pedestrian beware”?

Consider this: the Code of Iowa has specific sections which address the rights of pedestrians, and sets out penalties for violations of various pedestrian laws and regulations, not only for motorists, but for pedestrians as well.

Pedestrians have a couple of very specific laws written just for their benefit, starting with Chapter 321.325: Pedestrians Subject to Signals – Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic-control signals at intersections as heretofore declared in this chapter, but at all other places pedestrians shall be accorded the privileges and shall be subject to the restrictions stated in sections 321.327 to 321.331.

Chapter 321.326 of the Code of Iowa lays out perhaps the most basic pedestrian law – Pedestrians on Left – Pedestrians shall at all times when walking on or along a highway, walk on the left side of such highway.

The primary pedestrian law that affects motorists is found in Chapter 321.327: Pedestrians’ Right-of-way – Where traffic-control signals are not in place or in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

A person convicted of a violation of this section is guilty of a simple misdemeanor punishable as a scheduled violation under section 805.8 subsection 2, paragraph “i”.

According to Assistant Palo Alto County Attorney Melanie Summers Bauler, the fine for failing to yield to a pedestrian is $100, and add in a $35 surcharge and court costs of $60, and that mentality of letting the “pedestrian beware” can cost Joe Motorist a quick $195. There is a penalty for pedestrians who don’t obey the law as well “Jaywalking” the common name for such a violation, lands one a $25 fine, along with surcharge and court costs, for a $120 prize.

Then, the Code of Iowa addresses pedestrians crossing roadways in places other than marked crosswalks in Chapter 321.328: Crossing at Other Than Crosswalk – Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway except that cities may restrict such a crossing by ordinance.

Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

Where traffic-control signals are in operation at any place not an intersection, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

And then there are situations where perhaps maintenance work is taking place on a road. Chapter 321.329:

Duty of driver Pedestrians Crossing or Working on Highways – Notwithstanding the provisions of section 321.328 every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise due care upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.

Every driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way to pedestrian workers engaged in maintenance or construction work on a highway whenever the driver is notified of the presence of such workers by a flagman or a warning sign.

Under legislation enacted a few years back, any citation issued in a posted work zone on a street or highway will automatically be doubled by the court. That $195 ticket could suddenly cost you $390 in the blink of an eye.

The best way, whether on foot or in a vehicle, to avoid a costly ticket or potential injury or death, is quite simple know and obey pedestrian laws. The alternative could be costly in more ways than financially.