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Police trying to clear up misconceptions about crosswalk timers

Last Updated Mar 14, 2019 at 1:17 pm EDT

File photo of a pedestrian crossing signal. HANDOUT

Have you ever darted through a crosswalk as it ticks down to zero? Well, getting caught walking through the flashing hand and timer could actually cost you $50.

Toronto police are conducting an education campaign Wednesday to try to clear up some of the misconceptions about those crosswalk timers, as a part of their March break pedestrian safety blitz.

The countdown is for pedestrians already in the intersection. They are allowed to continue but those who have yet to start crossing are supposed to wait when the hand appears.

“When the hand is flashing you are not allowed to start crossing. It’s that simple,” Sgt. Cruz said.

Technically, you can be slapped with a $50 fine for crossing while the hand is up.

Although many pedestrians aren’t aware, the countdown also acts as a visual cue to let drivers know how much time they have left to clear the intersection, according to police.

“It allows cars making a left-hand or right-hand turn to clear the intersection to prevent gridlock,” Toronto police Sgt. Alex Cruz told 680 NEWS.

The blitz, which runs until March 17, will focus on the “Big 4” driving behaviours “that are known to cause injuries to people who walk on our roads.”

Police say 41 pedestrians were killed on the city’s streets in 2018. More than half of the fatalities were people 55 years old or older.