Many cops know it - at least the ones who aren't busy posing as decoys to catch drivers who don't stop for pedestrians. Smart pedestrians know it. Most motorists know it:
The state's 2010 law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks (and yield to pedestrians in unmarked intersections) is making roads more dangerous, not less - especially in shore towns in the summer.
Visitors happily crossing streets on their way to the beach have probably heard a little something about the law. The cars are going to stop, right? They feel empowered. But pedestrians in New Jersey don't need to feel empowered - they need to feel terrified.
And when pedestrians step obliviously into the road expecting cars to stop, think of the choices the law imposes on motorists, many of them visitors from out of state during the summer season.
One motorist might stop. But will the motorist behind him stop? Do the right thing, and you could get rear-ended.
Risk a quick check in the rear-view mirror, and you risk getting a ticket from that decoy cop who suddenly stepped off the curb or, God forbid, you could hit one of these overconfident pedestrians.
And, of course, it's not enough for one motorist to stop. Will motorists in the other lane stop? Will oncoming motorists stop? Many pedestrians don't seem to ask themselves these questions.
And so many of them think they understand the law - but don't.
Folks, the new law doesn't apply at intersections controlled by a traffic light. You can't try to cross on red and expect drivers to stop.
And bicyclists, the law does not apply to you. You are not pedestrians. You are operating a vehicle under New Jersey law, and cars are not required to stop and let you cross. You might want to bear that in mind.
Further compounding the problem - and the danger - is that some towns rigorously enforce the pedestrian law, and some don't enforce it at all. We're not going to single out the towns that don't enforce it. That would just cause a backlash, when what these towns have done is chosen the safer alternative.
The towns that rigorously enforce the law - Longport comes to mind - are creating danger, not alleviating it. Perhaps in addition to all those new signs telling motorists to stop for pedestrians, these towns could put up additional signs that quote this highly relevant section of the law:
"No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the drive to yield."