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Most drivers do not know that a pedestrian has the right of way to cross at an uncontrolled intersection, whether there is a marked crosswalk or not. In our blog post “Common Driver Mistakes: The Unmarked Crosswalk”, we described how many drivers misunderstand that a pedestrian has the right of way to cross the road at an intersection whether there is a marked crosswalk or not. This is because the definition of “crosswalk” in the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act defines a crosswalk as including the unmarked area between lines drawn from the edges of the road on either side of an intersection.
As a result of this misunderstanding, many drivers become frustrated with other motorists who stop for pedestrians to cross the road at an uncontrolled intersection when there is no marked crosswalk. There is often honking of horns and statements like “don’t stop for him, it’s not a crosswalk”. Some drivers believe stopping for the pedestrian is unsafe because stopping at an uncontrolled intersection when there is no other vehicle traffic, but just a pedestrian, may surprise other drivers and cause a rear-end collision. Despite this belief, it is correct to stop for a pedestrian at an uncontrolled intersection.
Indeed, if a vehicle stops in front of you to let a pedestrian cross, and you attempt to pass the stopped vehicle, you might be ticketed, or worse yet, injury the pedestrian. The B.C. Motor Vehicle Act contains a provision designed to prevent this scenario:
179(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. [note: this is true even if there are two lanes in the same direction]
Our message is this: do not become frustrated with other drivers that stop for pedestrians at unmarked and uncontrolled intersections; they are actually doing the right thing.