Many times I’ve gently mentioned to the driver of a car I’m a passenger in that the pedestrian attempting to cross the street at the corner ahead of us, despite the lack of a marked crosswalk or stop sign, has the right of way. And almost as often time I’m scoffed at by the driver, who insists that my assertion is nonsense. Perhaps this makes me a self-righteous pedant and backseat driver, but it also demonstrates the ignorance of many drivers.
- Every intersection is considered a crosswalk, White says, even those that are unmarked. Stoplights and stop signs take precedence. But if it’s an intersection with neither of those and a pedestrian steps into the street to cross, he or she has the right of way.
- Bicyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road as motorists, which means they need to yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks just as automobile drivers do. And if they’re caught in one of the crosswalk enforcement operations, they do get ticketed.
- As for pedestrians, it isn’t enough to stand on the sidewalk looking longingly at the other side of the street. Pedestrians need to show intent to cross, White says. And they do that by taking at least one step into the crosswalk. Also, pedestrians must provide drivers adequate distance to stop, White says.
I’ve often wondered if ignorance of these laws might be partially remedied by an educational campaign like those used by the buckle-your-seatbelt and the anti-drunk-driving people; e.g. billboards, television commercials, and a back-to-school special.