Do you have to wait for pedestrians to completely cross the street? - SUV VEHICLE

Do you have to wait for pedestrians to completely cross the street?


Technically, you can’t drive through a crossing if there’s still a pedestrian on it, but the rules are “open to interpretation”.

If you’re in a hurry to make it through a set of traffic lights, it can be tempting to slip through an intersection in a break between pedestrians.

However, are you actually allowed to drive through a green ‘walk’ signal while a pedestrian is still on the crossing – even if that pedestrian is nowhere near your car?

RELATED: Do I have to give way to pedestrians at roundabouts?

Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads recently posed this question on its Facebook page, where the majority of respondents provided the correct answer.

“This bike rider and pedestrian are both crossing the street on a green ‘walk’ signal. Is the driver of the orange car allowed to turn left after the bike rider but before the pedestrian?” the department queried.

The question was posted alongside an illustration of the following scenario:

According to the official Australian Road Rules, in this scenario, the orange car cannot turn until the pedestrian has cleared the crossing.

“You must give way to pedestrians and bicycle or personal mobility device riders on or entering a road you’re turning into or entering,” the department published on its Facebook page.

“This includes pedestrians or bicycle and personal mobility device riders that are crossing on the green ‘walk’ signal at an intersection controlled with traffic lights, and you are turning into the road they are crossing.”

The post received 713 comments – almost all of them providing the correct answer but with a couple of confused queries in the mix.

“If the bike has crossed and there is a safe gap to turn before a pedestrian, is that legal because in theory, you’re giving way to everyone as long as you don’t hit them? Legit question,” one commenter wrote.

“Yeah that’s the exact scenario I was wondering about, say a four-lane road where a bike would be completely off the road and the pedestrian most likely would not even be halfway,” another asked.

Do you have to wait for a pedestrian to completely cross the street?

A Queensland Transport and Main Roads spokesperson told Drive that motorists should err on the side of caution and be conservative in their interpretation of this road rule.

“Drivers should not turn until all vulnerable road users have cleared the crossing and it is safe to do so,” the spokesperson said.

“This [road rule] applies the same on single and multi-lane roads and regardless of how wide the crossing is.”

They added: “This rule is in place to protect vulnerable road users and recognises that pedestrians, bicycle riders and personal mobility riders can be unpredictable. For example, they may unexpectedly stop, change direction, slow or increase speed. Following this rule and showing a little patience will help everyone get where they are going safely”.

Queensland drivers that disobey this rule risk an on-the-spot fine of $464 and three demerit points.

‘How you give way is open to interpretation’

However, while the road rules state that “a driver must give way to any pedestrian on or entering a pedestrian crossing”, the definition of ‘give way’ is somewhat open-ended.

According to a spokesperson for ACT Policing, “If we go back into the regulation it says the meaning of ‘give way’ is to ‘remain stationary until it’s safe to proceed’.

“[So] by the letter of the law you need to give way to anyone on or entering a crossing, but how you give way is open to interpretation,” the spokesperson added.

Generally speaking, the spokesperson said, “If you’re turning left and it’s safe to move you can do so”.

As such, enforcement of this rule can vary and depend heavily upon an officer’s definition of what constitutes ‘safe to do so’.

One area where the rules are not open to interpretation is at children’s crossings, where a driver “must not proceed until there is no pedestrian or bicycle rider on or entering the crossing”.

When do pedestrians have right of way?

A spokesperson for Transport for NSW also emphasised the role of pedestrians in keeping the roads safe: “Pedestrians also have a responsibility to follow the road rules and should always check their surroundings before crossing the road”.

This includes not entering a road if the ‘flashing red man’ is showing, using crossings when they are available, not jaywalking within 20 metres of a crossing, and using the shortest or most direct way to cross a road.

Along with designated pedestrian crossings and lights, drivers are reminded that pedestrians have the right of way at the following types of intersections and crossings: intersections, slip lanes, U-turns, shared zones, footpaths and driveways.

The post Do you have to wait for pedestrians to completely cross the street? appeared first on Drive.


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