Don’t Cross the Line

By Jack Goldman

It’s lunchtime, and the race to Safeway begins. Dozens and dozens of students rush across Miller Avenue to Safeway through the crosswalk to be first in line to get their lunches. What if you are racing to cross Miller Avenue only to see that glaring red hand telling you to stop in your tracks? So you look both ways and sprint, your backpack bouncing up and down, until you make it across Miller. As you’re racing across the street, you neglect to see any cars coming and you’re really hungry and don’t want to wait in line. You only have 45 minutes for lunch and don’t want to spend half of it waiting. Suddenly, a policeman grabs your arm, pulls you to the side, and gives you a ticket for jaywalking.

According to the website, traffic.findlaw.com (a website that gives legal traffic advice), the definition of jaywalking is violating pedestrian traffic laws, most often by crossing a street illegally, whether by crossing against the light or crossing where there is no crosswalk. Jaywalking is considered to be an infraction or a misdemeanor, which can go on your record. An infraction has no probation or jail time: just a maximum fine of $250; where as a misdemeanor could include fines, probation, and a maximum of a year in the county jail. Policeman enforce these laws by issuing citations. The penalty for jaywalking usually includes a maximum fine of $191 that increases when the offense is repeated. Why do we have these laws? By jaywalking, you can put yourself and other people in danger.

The intersection at Miller is extremely dangerous. There are cars going towards Tam at 25 miles per hour and cars coming from the opposite direction at 40 miles per hour. These cars have the right of way, and if there are kids running across the street, they’re asking to get hit. If somebody gets hit by a car at that speed, they’re not going to survive. Policemen are there because they are trying to keep that intersection as safe as possible and to make sure that nobody makes that mistake and gets injured because of it. “I think that the law states that you have to wait [for the light] if you don’t want to pay the fine. If you don’t like that, bring it up with Congress,” said Senior Arman Noorani.

However, people seem to believe that they have a choice when it comes to crossing the street whenever they want; But they don’t. Students at Tam have found this out the hard way, as sophomore Daniel Reyes and senior Cheyenne Sykes received tickets from policemen on April 27 for jaywalking from Tam to the Safeway parking lot. The road was clear, but they were crossing against the light.“It’s a safety concern and I get that. [But] I think we’re responsible enough to make that decision on our own. It’s our choice whether or not we put ourselves in harm’s way,” Sykes said.

A similar situation occurred around the same time, when police ticketed a freshman named Taerees Jones who, along with a group of other students, for jaywalking across the same crosswalk. His ticket did not say the amount of the fine, but he was ordered to appear in court. Jones, however, says he has no plans to attend. “I hate why I got a ticket because it’s stupid and the police officer was ignorant,” he said.

I don’t understand why people would risk their lives just to get to their destination a minute or two quicker. The risks heavily outweigh the “reward” of jaywalking, because there isn’t really one in the first place. What’s even worse is that people don’t even know what they’re doing wrong. I see a bunch of people just walking through a street without any crosswalk to try and get to their car faster. On May 27, I saw two girls barrel through traffic to get to a car that was stopped at a red light and proceeded to get into the car, going through stopped cars. What if that light turned green right then? What situation would they be in now?

Those policemen have every right to give those students tickets for jaywalking, and I think they should crack down on it. It’s more dangerous than people think, and that’s what bothers me the most; the fact that jaywalking isn’t taken seriously. This is why we have lights and walking signs in the first place; to make sure that everyone gets to their destination without any danger. So, if you’re trying to save time by crossing when you’re not supposed to, just don’t. You just avoided a major accident.