“If you’re a pedestrian standing on the high visibility part of the crosswalk, and you just attempted to cross, I’m going to stop.” -/u/Zugman
Redditor /u/Zugman shared dashcam footage to the /r/IdiotsInCars subreddit showing a noteworthy situation involving a pedestrian trying to use a crosswalk in Newton, Massachusetts. Not only does the issue of “Who has the right of way?” come up, but more importantly, did anyone really do anything wrong here?
First, check out /u/Zugman’s video below.
The crosswalk is at 1 Winchester St in Newton, MA. (Link to exact location on Google Maps linked here.)
An important part of the video OP mentions is important is right at the beginning where, if you zoom in, you can see whoever’s trying to cross the street try to enter the crosswalk before backing out.
OP, seeing the pedestrian close to, but not in the crosswalk, and aware of the pedestrian’s intentions, slows and stops before the hatch-crossed markings, yielding to the pedestrian.
This is a two-way road, and cars in the other lane close to the pedestrian do not yield their right of way.
In the last half of the vid, a car approaching behind OP does not want to wait for the pedestrian to cross and attempts to overtake OP.
Who had the right of way, here?
An overarching principle laid out by the Massachusetts Right-of-Way rules in their Rules of the road Book states that “Right-of-way rules do not give you any “right.”…Right of way is something you give, not take.”
Laws specifically pertaining to Marked crosswalks; yielding right of way to pedestrians, and penalties can be found at MA Gen L ch 89 § 11.
The part of this section that applies to this situation is,
“When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be so to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk…”
Furthermore, a part of this section that will come into play later in this post is,
“No driver of a vehicle shall pass any other vehicle which has stopped at a marked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross…”
The way I interpret this situation in light of the above rules is, when the pedestrian started to enter the crosswalk, approaching cars who saw that should’ve started to slow in preparation to yield their right of way to that person.
Instead, the pedestrian was hesitant when she, in my opinion, should’ve been decisive, and, upon stepping back onto the sidewalk, immediately yields her right of way to the approaching cars.
Were the cars passing the pedestrian, ignoring them stopped at the beginning of the crosswalk, wrong?
According to a blog post from Morgenstern Injury Lawyers on the subject, a key word in most of these crosswalk laws is “within,” a word that the Massachusetts law has.
“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.”
But, what OP did, was that necessarily wrong?
I have not found any specifics on the matter but, taking the spirit of right-of-way rules, she didn’t have to stop for the pedestrian, but she decided to give her right of way to that pedestrian, whether she was ready to cross or not.
With that in mind, the car that decided to attempt an overtake was definitely in the wrong, as you cannot pass a car already stopped at a crosswalk letting a pedestrian cross.
To sum, the cars that passed the pedestrian didn’t technically do anything wrong as they had the right of way and OP didn’t have to stop, although it wasn’t technically against the law to do so (in light of the pedestrian relinquishing her right of way.)
Everyone in that thread seems to agree the pedestrian should be more decisive and, if the city of Newton, MA can install flashing LEDs at that crosswalk, like so many other cities have done in busy crosswalk areas, the better.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Let me know in the comments below.