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New pedestrian law takes effect Oct. 1

Drivers will have to yield to pedestrians who signal with their hands to show intent to cross

CONNECTICUT, USA — Beginning October 1st, new pedestrian safety laws take effect in Connecticut. One law aims to improve communication between drivers and pedestrians. It will allow pedestrians to let drivers know they are intending to cross by signaling with their hands. As the law stands now, pedestrians must step into the crosswalk for cars to yield. The new law allows them to stay safely on the sidewalk.

"I think that's a great idea honestly because no matter what happens the pedestrian safety comes first. They don't have airbags, they don't have seatbelts, and you should be watching out," said Ryan Rudolph of Hartford.

Under the new law, drivers also must yield to pedestrians if they move into the crosswalk entrance at all, including a part of their walking stick, wheelchair, their bike, or even their leashed dog.

RELATED: Connecticut kicks off Rail Safety Week with warnings, tips for drivers and pedestrians

"Yeah, it definitely makes me feel safer," said Dev Patel of Hartford who walks his dog, Leo often. "I walk him every day, walk twice a day. Actually, I have trouble sometimes walking him because there's incoming traffic all the time. 

According to the CT DOT, there were 65 pedestrian deaths in 2020, the highest amount in the last five years. Social media videos created by the DOT promoting the new law have made it to Connecticut residents' feeds. People said they are grateful for that, so that everyone is on the same page.

"I did stop and watch it because I was interested and I'm a resident. I think that'd be a great idea, just keep getting the word out," Rudolph said.

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A second new law prevents drivers or passengers from opening their doors in a way that hits or gets in the way of pedestrians or cyclists. That is huge for people like Chuck Simmons of West Hartford who rides his bike often. He said, car doors can pose a danger.

"When you're riding a bike, you have to be hyper aware so you can usually see those things coming if you're looking out for it but there are situations where if you don't have enough room to move out of the range of that door you have stop," Simmons said.

RELATED: Pedestrian killed while walking on I-84 in East Hartford

While the new laws are aimed at keeping pedestrians safe, some people said they are also important for drivers, to hopefully help cut down on confusion at the crosswalk.

"I see that pretty often, so I think it's definitely a good rule that they're going to start implementing," Patel said.

Drivers who do not yield to pedestrians under the new law, can face a fine of $500.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at gmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

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