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Jaywalking — FAQ

What is it?

While it commonly refers to crossing a street mid-block, “jaywalking” really means crossing the street in any illegal fashion. Depending on local laws, you can even be jaywalking while in a pedestrian crosswalk.

In many jurisdictions, crossing in the middle of the block is not technically illegal, although you may be found responsible if a collision takes place.

Laws typically cover pedestrian behaviour at traffic lights and other marked crossings.

Is it illegal?

Each province and municipality has its own traffic laws. They may differ differ, but all have some regulations governing when, where, and how pedestrians can cross.

A common example is last-second crossing: typically, entering a crosswalk after the “don’t walk” hand signal begins flashing is illegal and can merit a fine. You’re okay if the light changes to amber or red while you’re in a crosswalk, but you can only enter a crosswalk on a green light or “walk” signal.

What are the penalties?

As a relatively minor traffic offence, jaywalking merits a ticket and a fine. The penalties depend on local laws and the different types of violation. In Toronto, fines range as high as $110, Calgary charges as much as $115 and Moncton goes as high as $172.50.

Don’t pedestrians have the right of way?

Only when crossing legally. In case of a collision, the onus is typically on the driver to prove they are not at fault, but some pedestrians who’ve been struck by cars have later been hit with fines when it was demonstrated that they were at fault for jaywalking.

If you’re crossing a road outside of a crosswalk, local laws usually require you to yield the right of way to vehicles.