Drivers must now fully stop, not just yield, for pedestrians in all crosswalks in Virginia or they could be slapped with a $500 fine.
The law that went into effect Wednesday, July 1 requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in any marked or unmarked crosswalk. That means any intersection where the speed limit is 35 mph or less. Drivers can proceed once the pedestrian has passed the lane in which the vehicle is stopped.
Pedestrian safety has become such an issue in parts of Northern Virginia that undercover police officers wearing bright clothes routinely cross streets in marked crosswalks only to have cars cruise past them dangerously close. Then the drivers are ticketed.
“We want you to slow down,” said Arlington County Police Department spokesman Kirby Clark. “We want you to be aware of who is around you.”
Last year there were 166 crashes in Arlington involving pedestrians. Four people were killed.
Another law change of high interest to drivers went into effect Wednesday in Virginia; the gas tax went up from about 17 cents to about 21 cents per gallon.