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Street Smart
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Pedestrian Myths vs. Reality

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  • MYTH #1: Pedestrians always have the right-of-way.

    Not always. Legally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at controlled intersections and in marked crosswalks, but the law also states that “no pedestrian shall unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.” The pedestrian must give the motorist the right-of-way at all areas other than marked crosswalks and controlled intersections.

    Motorists are required to bring vehicles to a complete stop when a pedestrian is crossing in the crosswalk of the roadway and remain stopped until the pedestrian has cleared the lane (half of the roadway) in which the vehicle is traveling.

    Remember, if you are on a bicycle, you are a vehicle subject to traffic laws, not a pedestrian. Cyclists should dismount and walk across if they wish to use a crosswalk at a busy intersection.
  • MYTH #2: You are safe in a crosswalk.

    Painted lines do not protect you from harm, even if you have the legal right of way. This is particularly important at crosswalks without a traffic signal or stop sign.

    Pedestrians have a specific duty to exercise care, caution and good judgment for their protection. They should not leave a curb or other place of safety unless there is adequate distance for a motorist to stop and yield.
  • MYTH #3: A green light or walk signal means “Go.”

    A green light or walk signal indicates that it is your turn to cross, but first make sure that the intersection is clear and watch for red light runners. Also, make sure that any right-turning cars will yield to you.
  • MYTH #4: If you see the driver, the driver sees you.

    Drivers may not see you in time to stop, particularly if you are coming from the right and they are looking left for oncoming cars. To be safe, make eye contact with any driver whose path will cross yours and proceed only when certain the car will stop. On multi-lane roads, do not start across until vehicles in all lanes have stopped. If there is a median, make separate decisions about crossing each direction of traffic.

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