By Jennifer Siciliano Shayne
The revamped crosswalk law clarified when motorists must stop for pedestrians, and where pedestrians may cross the street.
State law now requires "the driver of a vehicle to stop when a pedestrian crossing in a crosswalk is approaching from an adjacent lane on the opposite half of the roadway."
In other words, if you're driving and a pedestrian tries to cross from the opposite side of the road, you must stop even if the pedestrian hasn't reached your lane.
"There's been an attempt on the part of the police department to educate the public on crosswalk laws," said Sgt. Wayne Miller, traffic supervisor for Baltimore County Police precincts 8 and 9.
Since July, 108 warnings have been given to motorists and pedestrians on Harford Road in Parkville, said Miller.
While no crosswalk citations were written during this period, Miller said 26 citations were written for drivers pulled over at crosswalks who were found in violation of other laws, such as driving with an expired vehicle registration or a suspended driver's licenses.
Fines for crosswalk violations have risen for both motorists and pedestrians, said Miller.
Motorists who fail to stop or pass a car stopped at a crosswalk must appear in court, where a judge can levy a fine up to $500.
Pedestrians failing to cross at available crosswalks can be fined $35.
Refinements to Maryland's child safety seat law also become effective today.
The weight requirement remains the same _ children up to 40 pounds must be in a safety seat while riding in a vehicle regardless of age. But the law now includes children up to age 6, regardless of weight, said Meg Miller of the Maryland Highway Safety Office. Children must meet both the weight and age requirements, said Miller.
Although not mandatory, Miller said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends booster seats for children age 4-8.
"A booster seat is included as one of the types of seats that could be used," for older or larger children, Miller said. "Kids do develop at different rates."
A booster seat may not be necessary if:
* The child sits all the way back against the auto seat.
* The child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat.
* The seatbelt crosses the child's shoulder between the neck and arm.
* The lap belt is as low as possible, touching the thighs.
* The child can stay seated like this for the whole trip.
"We're trying to get people to follow the five steps," Miller said.
Any "no" answer means the child needs a booster seat.
It is estimated that 48 percent of children age 4-8 killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2001 were not restrained.
People found in violation of this law will be fined $48 including court costs, said Miller, adding, "It's not meant to be punitive."
The object of the law is protecting children, she said.
For information on child safety seats, call Maryland Kids in Safety Seats at 1-800-370-SEAT.
E-mail Jennifer Siciliano Shayne at firstname.lastname@example.org