Pedestrians should exercise caution

Jaywalking is a civil traffic offense, which can warrant fines of up to $250 from police.

You do it. You know you do. But what you probably don’t know is how much money it could cost you.

In fall 2003, University police stepped up jaywalking enforcement to try to curb the influx of activity with the start of the semester.

At that time, students saw increased warnings and fines from police on jaywalking patrol.

University police said increased patrol has been a regular occurrence for years at the start of the fall semester.

In 2003, the sometimes tens of $100 violations that were handed out a day were spurred by complaints from drivers and pedestrians.

Many students were outraged at the ticketing efforts, calling them an overreaction on the part of University police.

Deputy Police Chief Steve Johnson said police do not write many citations, but are more likely to issue warnings.

If police are investigating an accident and it is determined by witnesses that the pedestrian violated civil traffic rules, the pedestrian is eligible for a citation.

The point of having traffic laws, according to University police, is to have some sort of an expectation for what happens in an intersection. The odds of physical harm go up with the increased amount of unexpected activity.

Most of us feel immune. It’s like we trust ourselves enough to not need a stupid light that tells us when we’re allowed to walk. I mean, we have eyes after all.

And if we were the only factor affecting our safety, it would make sense to ignore traffic lights and jaywalk the heck out of the University area.

But the fact is that we’re not the only factor – there are bikes, motorcycles, cars, buses, even drunk drivers to be accounted for.

Maybe waiting for the light is our best protection against unexpected activity, or our best way to avoid being involved in that one freak accident that we swore would never happen to us.

If nothing else, heed this advice: Drivers can be stupid. Police might ticket you. Stay on the sidewalk until it’s your turn.