Rules regarding yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks

I’m somewhat confused about this. I live in Maryland but am hoping that if no one knows the specifics regarding the laws in Maryland, the laws across the United States are similar.

I understand that if a pedestrian is actually crossing the street in a crosswalk (or anywhere else, for that matter) I have to stop for them (duh). But what about a pedestrian waiting at a crosswalk to cross? Do I ever have to stop for them/yield right-of-way (in the absence of a crossing guard/cop), or is it only if they have started to cross?

I suppose at heart, my question is: does the sidewalk count as part of the crosswalk or is the crosswalk only the actual in-road portion?

I googled this and read something about it being the case somewhere in the US (I think) that you need to stop if the pedestrian shows *intent *to cross. What on Earth does that mean? Doesn’t waiting at the crosswalk show intent? Does this ever apply in Maryland?

Yes, I’ve consulted the driver’s handbook for Maryland. It doesn’t really answer my question.

Oh, one other thing: the driver’s handbook says to yield to pedestrians when turning on a green light. Is that just the normal yield to pedestrians, whatever that turns out to be, or does that include pedestrians stopped at the crosswalk preparing to cross?

(This is for taking a driver’s license on-road test, by the way, so I have to get it exactly right, just in case the situation arises.)

Thank you very much. I’m very nervous.

Good luck on your test I’m sure you’ll do wonderfully. My understanding is in most states if a pedestrian is standing at a marked crosswalk that in and of itself shows intent to cross. You legally are required to stop and allow them to walk across. This is rarely if ever enforced but legally pedestrians always have the right of way at a marked crosswalk.

Well, except if they have a “don’t walk” light on as many intersections now do – all traffic stops, and all pedestrians cross every which way.

Sorry, pet peeve of mine. This is close but not quite true, not everywhere anyway. Here, in Wisconsin, the pedestrian has the right of way in a marked crosswalk unless there is a control signal indicating don’t walk. So if you are in a crosswalk and the Don’t Walk signal is on you do NOT have the right of way.

Other than that I think you’re right.

Of course there’s alway the idea that you may have the right of way but they have a vehicle that weighs several thousand pounds so it is also in your best interest to use that right of way intelligently.

In most states, drivers must yield to pedestrians in their half of the roadway. That would imply off the curb.

You can find your state’s vehicle code at this National Motorists Association website. Here is the relevant passage from the Maryland transportation code:

§ 21-502. Pedestrians’ right-of-way in crosswalks.

(a) In general.-
(1) This subsection does not apply where:
(i) A pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing is provided, as described in § 21-503 (b) of this subtitle; or
(ii) A traffic control signal is in operation.
(2) The driver of a vehicle shall come to a stop when a pedestrian crossing the roadway in a crosswalk is:
(i) On the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling; or
(ii) Approaching from an adjacent lane on the other half of the roadway.
(b) Duty of pedestrian.- A pedestrian may not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
© Passing of vehicle stopped for pedestrian prohibited.- If, at a marked crosswalk or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, a vehicle is stopped to let a pedestrian cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear may not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.

justrob, I hope you understand that a flashing “DON’T WALK” is not a prohibition on walking. It means “don’t start to cross.”

If there’s a mid-block crosswalk that’s marked by the stripes, many states require cars to stop if there’s a pedestrian looking to cross. In New York, then include a sign in the center of the road making that clear; the signs are less common in New England (though the law is the same) because they’ve had that rule for decades.

Where there is a light, the pedestrian is to cross only when the light is in his favor. This included “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs, but also applies to any intersection: the pedestrian crosses walking parallel to the traffic that has the green light.

I’ve never seen the rule stated explicitly (and I hate city driving and avoid it), but it doesn’t seem to hold up in practise, or make a lot of sense. In Boston at some crosswalks there seem to always be people waiting to cross and traffic could be held up for hours. Most of the crosswalks seem to be at corners with some sort of signal, so those are accounted for, but I’ve seen a few busy mid-block cross walks. Maybe I didn’t notice the signals just for pedestrians. Now I’ll keep a closer eye on them. As an aside I’ll mention that I always try to stop for pedestrians, it’s just easier than getting a ticket, getting sued, or getting sent to jail for vehicular homicide.

In my city, ALL intersections are regarded as crosswalks, whether marked as crosswalks or not. Standing at the curb, not in the crosswalk, is considered intent to cross, and we get ticketed for not stopping for them. And they get jaywalking tickets for crossing mid-block or against a stoplight, even when there’s no cross-traffic. It’s like being in Switzerland or something.

And what city is that?

Could be any one in the state of California. Ink is cheaper than paint.

I have friends in the Cayman Islands and there if someone shows intent you stop - its weird, if a guy at a crosswalk lifts his foot off the ground Im supposed to stop. How am I supposed to notice that? Ill have to go 10 mph just so I can look at everyones feet!

In Houston, we dont care. If your in the crosswalk you should run. Theyre crazy here!

Wall*Mart has trained people to just step out in front of cars any old place and now they are doing it on highways with 55MPH speeds.
They are dying.

If it is not an intersection or a marked crossing, do not dare the cars ever. If it is a legal crossing, just remember, there is right & dead right.

In Boston virtually all crosswalks have walk/don’t walk lights.

And in driver’s ed we were told you have to stop if the pedestrian has stepped foot on the crosswalk, not just because they’re standing near one. I wonder if I can find a copy of the law in this state…

So it looks like we told the right thing in driver’s ed.

If you are in Montreal, don’t, repeat don’t, attempt to cross at a marked crosswalk (or anywhere else, for that matter) if cars are coming. If you do, be sure your will is up to date. On the other hand, if the cars have a stop sign, then not only do you have the right of way, but nearly all drivers, even taxis, seem to be very courteous about respecting it, even if you are just approaching the intersection. Go figure.

Does anyone know if this is true: A friend crossing a street in London was honked and cursed at by a turning car and the driver informed him that the turning car had the right of way over any pedestrian. Was this ever the case? I find it hard to believe, but he got one explanation that it was a class thing. Only lower classes were on foot while upper classes were on horseback or in a carriage.

I think you meant to say “Toronto”.

There is a crosswalk by my house. The kind where you push the button, then lights flash, and you’re supposed to point to the opposite side of the street to signal your intention to cross. I don’t let my mom use it. Cars might stop 10% of the time. Or else, the car in the lane nearest the curb will stop, and then the impatient bastard behind him will pull out and swerve around him in the passing lane, almost clipping the pedestrian.

Luckily my mom has witnessed several close shaves and has not trouble following my advice to walk ten minutes to the nearest controlled intersection. Inconvenient, but less likely to result in death.

Thank you, everyone. No offense, but I’m still not clear. I guess I’ll just have to ask a cop someday.

(I passed, by the way! Didn’t encounter any pedestrians, thank God.)

Meanwhile, in Montana, not only is it the law that any pedestrian who might plausibly cross has the right of way, but the drivers actually follow it. I’ve had cars stop and wait for me when I was just coming down the side street, and where they could have been long past the intersection before I reached it if they hadn’t stopped. It does make things a little difficult when I visit family back east, since I always have to remind myself that drivers there don’t behave that way.

That makes a lot more sense. I tend to stop when I see people approaching a crosswalk because I can’t be sure they see me. I’m almost sure there is one intersection midblock where nobody stops for the pedestrians waiting, often if they have stepped out into the street, but maybe the ‘half of the roadway’ part explains that. I’ll check closely for signals next time I go by there too. But if the pedestrian signals don’t correspond to a traffic signal, I’m not sure what difference it would make. It might lead to a group of people suddenly marching out into the street when a walk sign comes on, and the cars don’t have any idea it’s about to happen.

I have no idea about the class thing, but it is certainly true that in London you do not have the US-style yield to pedestrians when turning right on green (even though it would be turning left in London). In the UK, you do not get both cars and pedestrians having lights giving them the go ahead. If a driver has a green light, all pedestrian lights are on “don’t walk”, and vice versa.

I used to cross a busy street to get to work. White lines but no lights. Every couple of months a motorcycle officer would sit there and catch people during the morning commute.

Once he ticketed a bicyclist who didn’t stop - that was one unhappy cyclist.