Always use crosswalks and pedestrian-activated signals when they're available. It's safer to cross at marked crosswalks or controlled intersections whenever possible.
Crosswalks can be marked or unmarked.
- Marked Crosswalk: Any part of a roadway that is distinctly marked by signs, lines, or any other marking on the road for pedestrian crossing.
- Unmarked Crosswalk: The part of a roadway that connects 2 sidewalks, curbs, or edges of a road at an intersection where that roadway crosses another—think of an invisible line drawn corner to corner straight across the road. Unmarked crosswalks exist at all intersections unless a sign states otherwise.
Many intersections with traffic lights have crosswalks with pedestrian signals. When the ‘walk’ signal is lit, pedestrians may enter the crosswalk. When the ‘don’t walk’ signal is lit or flashing, pedestrians must not enter the crosswalk and must clear the crosswalk immediately if already in it.
Right of way
Pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk unless a peace officer or traffic control device directs otherwise. This means that even if the crosswalk is unmarked, vehicles must stop and yield to pedestrians. Drivers should make sure to watch for the elderly or people with disabilities who may take more time crossing. Failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk will result in a $810 fine and 4 demerit points. However, as a pedestrian you are still responsible for exercising due care even though you have the right of way and you should make sure that all vehicles have yielded before entering the crosswalk.
A pedestrian crossing a roadway outside a crosswalk must yield the right of way to vehicles. Some municipalities also have 'jaywalking' bylaws. If you cross the street outside a crosswalk in these municipalities, you could receive a fine.
Signalling your intent to cross can help drivers know that you intend to enter the crosswalk. You can use Point, Pause, Proceed as a rule of thumb:
- Hold out your arm and point across the street where you intend to cross.
- Pause and look both ways to make sure it's safe before you enter the crosswalk.
- Once safe, proceed to cross the crosswalk.
When you are walking or running outdoors at any time of day, you are smaller than all the vehicles around you and are much more vulnerable in a collision. To make yourself more visible:
- Signal your intent – Use hand signals before crossing the road to let drivers know what you plan on doing. Fully extend your right or left arm and point in the direction you're going in before crossing.
- Watch the weather – When it is raining, snowing, or there is a heavy fog, you can be even harder to see outside. Wearing bright coloured clothing and using hand signals can make you more visible in poor weather.
- Wear light coloured clothing – Brightly coloured clothing can improve your visibility to drivers and help make sure that you're seen while crossing the road or walking/running against traffic.
How to stay alert
Stay safe near roadways and minimize distractions by following these tips:
- be careful during rush hour (3 to 7 pm)
- remove your headphones so you can listen for changes in traffic such as emergency response vehicles
- put away your phone, especially when you are crossing the street
- use the sidewalk; if there is not one, walk off the road, facing traffic, staying as far away from vehicles as possible
Walking is often considered the safest route to get to and from parties, visiting friends, or dining at restaurants. Even if you choose not to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs, you still need to be careful as a pedestrian. The reasons you should not drive when impaired (for example, impaired judgement, decision making, reaction time, coordination) still exist if you are a pedestrian. When impaired, you are more likely to:
- cross the road in the wrong place
- travel too closely to oncoming traffic
- enter a crosswalk when it's not safe
You can use many of the same precautions as a pedestrian as you would if you were a driver. For example:
- have a designated driver take you home
- have a designated walker who can help you stay safe as you walk. Make sure this person is decided on before your event.
- consider whether you need more than one designated driver to help get everyone home safely
- consider taking a taxi or ride sharing service
- consider making yourself as visible as possible if you will be walking home at night; wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing or items to help drivers see you in the dark
- cross at brightly lit crosswalks and avoid jaywalking
Only drivers operating a motor vehicle can be charged with impaired driving. However if an officer sees that you're impaired, he or she can fine you with other charges.
For example, if you are walking impaired an officer could charge you with infractions such as intoxication in a public place. Some municipalities also have bylaws restricting jaywalking, and you are more likely to cross in an unsafe location if you are impaired.