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Is there ever a time I don't have the right-of-way as a pedestrian in a crosswalk?

Some pedestrians believe that from the moment the step foot into a crosswalk, they are fully protected by the law. They think that as soon as they jump onto those big white lines, any and every motor vehicle must come to a screeching halt to accommodate their need to cross the road. This is not completely true, however, and pedestrians need to be aware of when they do and do not have the right-of-way in a crosswalk.

  • A driver must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing in a crosswalk if there is no traffic signal in place or operation, and the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway in which the vehicle is traveling or approaching from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
  • A pedestrian may not suddenly leave the curb or other place of safety and proceed into a crosswalk in the path of the vehicle so close that it is impossible for the vehicle operator to yield.
  • The operator of a vehicle approaching from the rear of a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross a roadway may not pass the stopped vehicle.
  • Pedestrians should stay to the right half of the crosswalk, if possible.

The most important thing to remember when you are a pedestrian attempting to cross the street in a crosswalk is that a car may break the law and not allow you to walk in front of it—but do not get angry and just start walking into traffic. They do need to stop for you, but in the end, it is you versus a large, moving vehicle. The vehicle will always win and you do not want to put yourself into a potentially dangerous situation that could leave you seriously injured.

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David Hart
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