Yale Daily News

Several new state laws affecting drivers and pedestrian safety will take effect at the beginning of next month. 

Drivers will have to yield to pedestrians more often than before. Pedestrians will have the right of way when they are in any portion of the crosswalk — whether they are on the sidewalk and indicating an intent to cross with a body part or entering the crosswalk with a wheelchair, cane, walking stick, crutch, bicycle, electric bicycle, stroller, carriage, cart, or leashed or harnessed dog.

These new regulations greatly expand the conditions under which pedestrians have legal protection from drivers. There will be a $500 fine imposed on drivers who fail to yield in given conditions.

“On both sides of the crosswalk, drivers will need to stop completely when encountering a pedestrian,” former New Haven Transit Chief Doug Hausladen ’07 told the News in June. “It will start bending the curve of driver behavior towards a more pedestrian-friendly Connecticut.”

Another provision also bans “dooring,” or opening a car door into a bike lane in a way that obstructs the path of cyclists. Fines for using hand-held mobile phones while driving will also increase on a scale that varies by jurisdiction.

All changes are part of an omnibus traffic safety bill, H.B. 5429, that also grants greater control over speed limits to local officials. The bill was shepherded through the house by House Representative Roland Lemar (D-New Haven), and was signed by Gov. Ned Lamont in June. Traffic safety advocates who cheered the bill through multiple committees praised the final law’s focus on pedestrian safety but expressed disappointment that provisions for speed camera pilot programs were left out.

The changes are accompanied by a state-run public information campaign.

Isaac Yu writes about transportation, traffic safety and urban planning in New Haven. He is also a production and design staffer for the News. Hailing from Garland, Texas, he is a Berkeley College first-year majoring in English and Urban Studies.