Road safety: Pedestrians

It is up to both drivers and pedestrians to keep everyone safe on Ontario roads. Learn the rules for pedestrian crossings, the penalties for endangering pedestrians and get tips for driving and walking safely.

  1. Driving laws for pedestrian crossovers and school crossings
  2. Penalties for endangering pedestrians
  3. Tips for pedestrians
  4. Tips for drivers
  5. Tips for parents

Driving laws for pedestrian crossovers and school crossings

Drivers - including cyclists - must stop and yield the whole roadway at pedestrian crossovers, school crossings and other locations where there is a crossing guard. Only when pedestrians and school crossing guards have crossed and are safely on the sidewalk can drivers and cyclists proceed.

A school crossing is any pedestrian crossing where a school crossing guard is present and displaying a school crossing stop sign.

diagram of an example of a school crossing. The image shows a mid-block pedestrian crosswalk on a two-lane roadway marked by two sets of double white bars which run across the roadway. Two rectangular signs with black symbols of two school children crossing on a fluorescent yellow green background are installed at the school crossing on each side of the roadway – underneath, there are two fluorescent yellow green signs with the message “school crossing” in black. A school crossing guard is showing a school crossing stop sign to cars and bicycles stopped at the crossing. Children are crossing the road. Cars and bicycles must wait until the school crossing guard and children crossing the road are on the sidewalk across the roadway before they proceed.

Pedestrian crossovers are identified by specific signs, pavement markings and lights. Some have illuminated overhead lights/warning signs and pedestrian push buttons. There are four types of pedestrian crossovers in Ontario.

diagram of a pedestrian crossover. The image shows a mid-block pedestrian crossover on a four-lane roadway. Two large white X marks appear on the roadway in the two lanes approaching the crossover. The crossover is marked by two sets of double white bars which run across the roadway. Two rectangular signs with a large black X and the word “pedestrians” in black on a white background are installed at the crossover on each side of the roadway – underneath, there are two signs with the message “stop for pedestrians”. Two rectangular amber signs with a black X marking are installed over the roadway, one for each direction of travel. There are two round amber lights near the inside edges of the rectangular amber signs. Pedestrians are crossing the road. Cars and a bicycle are stopped at the crossover. They must wait until pedestrians are on the sidewalk across the road before they proceed.
diagram of a pedestrian crossover. The image shows a mid-block pedestrian crossover on a two-lane roadway. A ladder crosswalk, consisting of many white parallel bars between two white outer lines, runs across the roadway. A yield to pedestrians line made of white triangles with the bottom points facing the direction of approaching traffic appears on the roadway in each direction of travel before the crossover. These lines look like shark teeth. A rectangular sign with a black symbol of a person crossing from right to left on a white background is installed at the crossover on the side of the roadway. There is also a sign which reads “stop for pedestrians” under that sign. The signs are also installed on the other side of the crossover, but the black symbols show a person crossing from right to left. Pedestrians are crossing the road. Cars and a bicycle are stopped at the shark teeth lines. They must wait until pedestrians are on the sidewalk across the road before they proceed.
diagram of a pedestrian crossover. The image shows a mid-block pedestrian crossover on a two-lane roadway. A ladder crosswalk, consisting of many white parallel bars between two white outer lines, runs across the roadway. A yield to pedestrians line made of white triangles with the bottom points facing the direction of approaching traffic appears on the roadway in each direction of travel before the crossover. These lines look like shark teeth. A rectangular sign with a black symbol of a person crossing the road from right to left on a white background is installed at the crossover on the side of the roadway. There is a rectangular flashing light above the sign and a sign underneath which reads “stop for pedestrians”. The signs and light are also installed on the other side of the crossover, but the black symbols show a person crossing from right to left. Pedestrians are crossing the road. Cars and a bicycle are stopped at the shark teeth lines. They must wait until pedestrians are on the sidewalk across the road before they proceed.
diagram of a pedestrian crossover. The image shows a mid-block pedestrian crossover on a two-lane roadway. A ladder crosswalk, consisting of many white parallel bars between two perpendicular white outer lines, runs across the roadway. A yield to pedestrians line made of white triangles with the bottom points facing the direction of approaching traffic appears on the roadway in each direction of travel before the crossover. These lines look like shark teeth. There are two rectangular signs with a black symbol of a person crossing from right to left on a white background installed at the crossover: one on a pole on the side of the roadway and another one above the roadway facing approaching traffic. There is a rectangular flashing light above the sign on the side of the roadway and underneath a sign which reads “stop for pedestrians”. The signs and light are also installed on the other side of the crossover, but the black symbols show a person crossing from right to left. Pedestrians are crossing the road. Cars and a bicycle are stopped at the shark teeth lines. They must wait until pedestrians are on the sidewalk across the road before they proceed.

This law does not apply to pedestrian crosswalks at intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, unless a school crossing guard is present.

A crosswalk is a crossing location usually found at intersections with traffic signals, pedestrian signals or stop signs. A crosswalk can be:

  • the portion of a roadway that connects sidewalks on opposite sides of the roadway into a continuous path; or,
  • the portion of a roadway that is indicated for pedestrian crossing by signs, lines or other markings on the surface of the roadway at any location, including an intersection.
diagram of crosswalks at an intersection with traffic signals and pedestrian signals. The image shows a four-way intersection of two two-lane roadways. There are two traffic signals for each direction of travel. There are four crosswalks which link the corners of the intersection.  Each crosswalk is marked by two parallel white bars that run across the roadway. There is a pedestrian signal at each end of every crosswalk. Cars and bicycles are stopped at stop lines marked by white bars on one roadway. Stopped cars and bicycles are facing a red light. Pedestrians who face a lit-up “walking person” symbol in white on the pedestrian signal are crossing the roadway. When this symbol is not lit up and the orange hand symbol is lit up, pedestrians are not allowed to enter the crosswalk. Cars and bicycles proceed through the intersection when the traffic light they face turns green.

Penalties for drivers who endanger pedestrians

Penalties for drivers who endanger pedestrians will increase starting September 1, 2018. This includes higher fines and more demerit points for drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians at crossovers, school crossings and crosswalks with a school crossing guard present, as well as new penalties for drivers who are convicted of careless driving causing death or bodily harm.

Offence

Fine*

Demerits

Other Penalties

Failing to yield at pedestrian crosswalks, school crossings, and crossovers

Currently
Up to $500

Starting September 1, 2018
Up to $1000

Currently
Three demerit points

Starting September 1, 2018
Four demerit points

N/A
Running a red light Up to $1000 Three demerit points N/A
Failure to stop for a school bus

First offence:
Up to $2000

Each following offence:
Up to $4000

Six demerit points May result in imprisonment for up to six months
Failure to remain at scene of collision Up to $2000 Seven demerit points May result in imprisonment for up to six months and/or a two year driver’s license suspension
*Fines are doubled in Community Safety Zones— near schools and public areas. These areas are clearly marked with signs.

In addition to the penalties above, aggressive or careless drivers who put themselves and other road users, such as pedestrians, at risk may be charged with careless driving. If you are convicted of careless driving you can face:

  • Fines of up to $2,000
  • Six demerit points
  • A maximum of six months in jail
  • A driver’s licence suspension of up to two years

Starting September 1, 2018, if a you are convicted of careless driving causing bodily harm or death you can face:

  • Fines from $2,000 to $50,000
  • Six demerit points
  • A maximum of two years in jail
  • Courts can impose a driver’s licence suspension of up to five years

For information on these offences, you can visit MTO’s website or search for these offences in the Highway Traffic Act.


Safety Tips for Pedestrians

  • Cross only at marked crosswalks or traffic lights. Don't cross in the middle of the block or between parked cars.
  • Make sure drivers see you before you cross. If the driver is stopped, make eye contact before you step into the road.
  • Wear bright or light-coloured clothing or reflective strips, especially at dusk or when it's dark.
  • At a traffic light:
  • Cross when traffic has come to a complete stop.
  • Begin to cross at the start of the green light or “Walk” signal, where provided.
  • Do not start to cross if you see a flashing “Do Not Walk” symbol or the light turns yellow. If you already started to cross, complete your crossing in safety.
  • Never cross on a red light.
  • Watch for traffic turning at intersections or turning into and leaving driveways.

Safety Tips for Drivers

Pay special attention to pedestrians as you drive. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Always look for pedestrians, especially when turning.
  • Watch for children. Drive slowly and cautiously through school zones, residential areas, or any other area where children could be walking or playing.
  • Watch out for Community Safety Zone signs that indicate areas where public safety is a special concern, including the possibility of encountering pedestrians.
  • Be patient, especially with seniors or pedestrians with disabilities who need more time to cross the road.
  • Drive carefully near streetcar stops with islands or zones for passengers getting on and off. Pass them at reasonable speeds, and always be ready in case pedestrians make sudden or unexpected moves.

Safety Tips for Parents

Show your children how to cross a road safely. Teach them to:

  • Stay to the side of the road, walking as far away from traffic as they safely can
  • Stop at the edge of the sidewalk, and look both ways before crossing the road
  • Take extra care on roadways that have no curbs
  • Watch out for blind corners (for example, a car coming out of an alley may not see a child pedestrian about to cross).

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