Rarely do car accidents cause catastrophic injuries. However, typically when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian is left with some long-term injuries. Crosswalks are the key to a pedestrian’s survival when crossing the road.
Marked crosswalks occur at four-way, two-way and “T” intersections—anywhere there is a route to a busy pedestrian destination. The standard crosswalk sign is a white rectangle with a striding black stickperson. Crosswalk signs are usually posted on both sides of the road in both directions. On very busy streets they may also be suspended mid-way over the crosswalk. Usually the walkway is defined by white painted lines and it may be further highlighted by “zebra” stripes, large painted “Xs and even flashing lights.
Intersections with flashing green lights are pedestrian controlled intersections. This means that motorists with the flashing green light have the right-of-way but must be prepared, if they see a pedestrian at or approaching the corner, for the light to change. Once the pedestrian activates the cycle and the light changes from green to yellow to red, traffic in both directions must remain fully stopped until the flashing green light resumes. Even if the pedestrian crosses quickly, the red light controls when motorists may resume travel through the crosswalk and through the intersection.
Pedestrian controlled intersections require extra caution on the part of both pedestrians and motorists. Typically these intersections occur where a high traffic street intersects with a low traffic side street. Often, therefore, motorists attempting to turn from the low traffic side street into the high traffic street welcome pedestrians activating the red light. This usually enables them to turn much sooner than they may have been able to otherwise. But it also means that if they are over eager to go, they may pose a threat to the pedestrian by darting across their path too soon. Generally, the level of disorder at these intersections is higher than at regular light-controlled intersections. Many other road users, including cyclists and other pedestrians crossing the side street ignore the red light rule.
The British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act section 179(1) says that a driver must yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the highway in a cross walk if the pedestrian is on the half of the highway on which the driver is traveling, or is approaching it so closely that he or she is in danger. This suggests that a driver who proceeds through a crosswalk into which a pedestrian has just stepped from the far left has to be extremely cautious and should almost certainly stop. By stopping the motorist gives some warning to other drivers, of the presence of a pedestrian on the roadway. It seems reasonable that the stopped driver should wait right until the pedestrian has completed the crossing. This acts as a stop signal to traffic in both directions. Vehicles behind those that are slowing down or stopped at a crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross, under MVA section 179(2) must not overtake and pass that vehicle.
Vehicles move a lot faster than pedestrians. Please drive safely.