Quick quiz: do I have to stop for pedestrians waiting at a crosswalk?
Answer: mostly not. Let me explain…
I am both an avid car driver and an avid walker. I drive over 50,000 miles a year. And we walk a ton of miles on weekends on our weekly getaways.
So, I am on both sides of the fence here. I have no skin in the game.
With that said, it drives me CRAZY when pedestrians break the law and jump into a crosswalk to force vehicles to screech to a halt. It is dangerous for both pedestrians and motorists.
And jumping into a crosswalk is against the law (mostly)…
Because according to this pedestrian crossing state summary, the laws says:
Pedestrians may not suddenly leave the curb and enter a crosswalk into the path of a moving vehicle that is so close the vehicle is unable to yield.
Technically, some states have slightly different verbiage – like:
Pedestrians may not suddenly leave the curb and enter a crosswalk into the path of a moving vehicle that is so close to constitute an immediate hazard.
Virginia’s position on pedestrians and vehicles is less wordy… more direct:
Pedestrians may not enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.
Wisconsin takes the cake with this super-wordy, run-on sentence:
Pedestrians, bicyclists, and operators of a personal assistive mobility device may not suddenly leave the curb and enter a crosswalk into the path of a moving vehicle that is so close the vehicle is unable to yield.
This personal injury lawyer sums this issue up nicely:
If you are a pedestrian already IN the crosswalk and trying to cross the street, the law states that the driver must stop and allow you to cross.
If you are a pedestrian standing on the curb AT a crosswalk, the driver does not have to stop and allow you to cross.
There are 7 states and one “district” that have held out so far. They do not have laws protecting motorists from insane “jump-crosswalken’ pedestrians”. Instead, these states allow pedestrians to dash in front of 2- to 3-ton vehicles to save 5 seconds of their life:
– North Carolina
– Washington, D.C.
By the way: this is why pedestrian crossings in the middle of the street is beyond insane – watch this close call: