Right of Way Rules
Right of Way Rules at Pedestrians Crosswalks

Right-of-Way Rules for Pedestrian Crosswalks: Marked & Unmarked

Updated July 4, 2019

Pedestrian safety at crosswalks depends on motorists respecting their right-of-way, but that’s not where your responsibility as a driver ends. Remember that many pedestrians do not have the same knowledge of right-of-way laws as drivers. You must always stop for pedestrians crossing the road. This applies to unmarked crosswalks, marked crosswalks, crosswalks at uncontrolled intersections, mid-block crosswalks and crosswalks at intersections which are controlled by traffic lights.

Preservation of human life must be your primary goal as a driver, even when traffic control devices indicate that a pedestrian should have yielded the right-of-way. Traffic lights at intersections are installed to dictate right-of-way and maintain order but they do not permit you to harm a pedestrian if you have time to stop or slow down. Pedestrians must obey traffic laws, but you must be ready to protect them if they do not.

Right-of-way at controlled crosswalks

Pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to drivers at an intersection when instructed to do so, if the movement of traffic is controlled by traffic lights or a traffic control officer. Such intersections usually have pedestrian “WALK” and “DON’T WALK” signal lights which correspond with the green, yellow and red traffic lights used for road traffic.

The presence of a green traffic light and a “DON’T WALK” signal do not mean you can drive right over a crosswalk without paying attention. Drivers must remain vigilant for pedestrians even when a traffic control device permits them to pass over a crosswalk, as a pedestrian may disobey instructions and step out into the street without warning. If this happens, you must not forcibly claim right-of-way as you could injure or kill the pedestrian.

Inoperative traffic lights

Motorists must stop prior to the pedestrian crosswalk at any intersection usually managed by traffic lights, if the signals are inoperative or malfunctioning. In this situation, the inoperative signal should be thought of as a “STOP” sign. This means you must come to a complete stop and yield to any pedestrians wishing to cross the street – and cross traffic – before continuing into the intersection.

Stopping on a crosswalk

Motorists are forbidden to block a crosswalk when stopped prior to an intersection, or at any other time. Pedestrians may be endangered by having to walk around your vehicle, if any part of it intrudes on the crosswalk area. Blocking a crosswalk is a traffic violation for which you may be cited.

Passing at a crosswalk

This is a common cause of pedestrian fatalities at crosswalks. If there is a vehicle stopped at a pedestrian crosswalk ahead of you, do not pass them under any circumstances. The stopped vehicle could be obscuring a pedestrian using the crosswalk. Even if that is not the case, passing at a crosswalk is a serious violation for which you may receive a sizable fine and points on your license. Always assume that there are pedestrians crossing the street when approaching a vehicle waiting at a crosswalk.

Right-of-way rules for pedestrians at crosswalks

As a pedestrian, you should always have right-of-way on crosswalks. Drivers approaching the crosswalk must yield but you are not automatically protected from harm just because you have right-of-way. You must consider this crosswalk right-of-way guidance to stay safe and keep traffic flowing smoothly.

  1. 1

    At uncontrolled intersections, make sure that motorists approaching the crosswalk have seen you and are stopping before you step out into the road.

  2. 2

    Pedestrians must not linger, stop or unnecessarily delay traffic while using a crosswalk.

  3. 3

    As a pedestrian, you must obey traffic signals or the instructions given by authorized traffic control personnel, when they are present. Do not cross the street if a “DON’T WALK” or palm signal is displayed above a crosswalk.

  4. 4

    Exercise caution when crossing the street at an intersection with inoperative traffic lights. Motorists should treat the intersection as if it were controlled by a “STOP” sign and come to a complete stop before the crosswalk, though not all drivers will obey this rule.

  5. 5

    Always remain alert around crosswalks.

Just as motorists must respect pedestrians, pedestrians must respect motorists. Remember that drivers do not wish to hit you any more than you wish to be hit. Respect a driver’s right-of-way if a green traffic light indicates they may go and always give them enough time to yield at uncontrolled intersections.

Would you pass a driving test today?

Find out with our free quiz!

TAKE A FREE TEST

Like the article? Give us 5 points!

Click a star to add your vote

5.0 out of 5 stars based on 2 votes.

Up next

Article preview
Before you start driving 1 of 3

Car Reference Points

One of the hardest things for a new driver is to learn to correctly estimate the vehicle's location on the road and to position the vehicle exactly where it needs to be. Reference points help drivers to overcome this issue and allow to make better judgments regarding the vehicle's position by serving as visual guides.

Article preview
Before you start driving 2 of 3

Pre-Drive Checklist

Drivers should never underestimate the importance of the pre-drive checklist. Looking behind the vehicle to make sure there are no children and animals there, making sure your seat belt is on, adjusting your seat and mirrors, making sure the windshield is clean - you have to go through all these things every time before you start driving.

Article preview
Before you start driving 3 of 3

Steering Techniques

Learning how to steer the vehicle the right way from the start is important – getting rid of bad driving habits is extremely hard. Learning various steering techniques starts with learning to position your hands on the steering wheel and choosing the most appropriate position for every possible driving situation.

Review
Rules of The Road 4 of 4

Driving on The Shoulder

Road shoulders are intended for emergency use only. In general, motorists should not drive on the shoulder unless it is necessary to avoid a collision or to remove a disabled vehicle from the roadway. The rules governing when and how drivers may use the shoulder of the roadway may vary from state to state.

Coordinating Traffic 1 of 2

Coordinating Traffic Flow

The term “traffic flow” describes the movement of traffic and interactions between individual travelers using the highway transportation system. In an ideal situation, traffic would flow in a continuous and orderly manner, to allow the maximum number of road users to move through a stretch of roadway in the shortest possible time.

Coordinating Traffic 2 of 2

Communicating With Other Drivers

Communicating your actions and intentions to other drivers is an important part of driving and it directly impacts the safety of you and those who surround you on the road. Learn how to use all communication channels effectively!

Right of Way Rules 1 of 4

Right-of-Way Rules

When a driver has right-of-way, it means they currently have permission to pass over a section of roadway. Whenever two motorists wish to occupy the same section of roadway at the same time, right-of-way rules will determine who goes first. Understanding and respecting right-of-way is essential, as it allows road users to avoid conflicts which could impede traffic flow or cause a collision.

Right of Way Rules 2 of 4

Right-of-Way at Intersections

Drivers using an intersection must rely on right-of-way laws to determine who goes first. To choose a safe path through an intersection, motorists must understand right-of-way rules and learn to accurately judge the speed and location of other vehicles.

Right of Way Rules 3 of 4

Right-of-Way for Pedestrians

Conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians must be avoided at all costs. Remember that you must always yield to pedestrians on the roadway, even if you believe the lawful right-of-way is yours.