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Perhaps one of the most common mistakes drivers make is not understanding what is a crosswalk and who has the right of way at a crosswalk.
As noted in our blog “What is a “Crosswalk”? The Answer Might Surprise You”, a crosswalk includes an unmarked area if it is at an intersection and within imaginary lines drawn from opposite sides of the highway (road), or within imaginary lines on one side of the highway (such as across the base of a “T” at a T-intersection). This means that a crosswalk exists whether the intersection is controlled by a stop sign or a stoplight, and whether or not there are distinct pedestrian markings.
The definition of crosswalk is important because the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act states the following about the right of way between a vehicle and a pedestrian at a crosswalk:
179 (1) Subject to section 180, the driver of a vehicle must yield the right of way to a pedestrian where traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation when the pedestrian is crossing the highway in a crosswalk and the pedestrian is on the half of the highway on which the vehicle is travelling, or is approaching so closely from the other half of the highway that he or she is in danger.
(2) A pedestrian must not leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close it is impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way.
(3) If a vehicle is slowing down or stopped at a crosswalk or at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the highway, the driver of a vehicle approaching from the rear must not overtake and pass the vehicle that is slowing down or stopped.
This means that, while a pedestrian may not step off a curb at an unmarked crosswalk when it is dangerous to do so (section 179 (2)), the pedestrian does have the right of way over a vehicle at an unmarked crosswalk (an uncontrolled or controlled intersection) where they are approaching the road on the same side of the road as the passing vehicle or so closely from the other side of the road that they would be in danger if the vehicle did not stop.
Unfortunately, many pedestrians are injured, or at least very frustrated, because motorists do not understand the rights of pedestrians. At LaW, we care about pedestrian rights and fight to make sure your rights are protected. For a free consultation, call 250-888-0002.