How badly did I screw up?

Hey folks, just thought I’d get some opinions on a situation that happened to me a little while back. Since most of my experience in driving hasn’t been in the city, this was a little freaky to me.

I was driving on a small, residential street doing about 20-25 miles an hour. I approach an intersection apparently regulated by a traffic light. The intersection appeared to be a ‘‘T’’ style, and I was driving on the road that makes up the top part of the letter T, passing from left to right as you’re looking at the letter. The light was green so I continued to approach it. However, the green pedestrian signs at the intersection were strobing. This confused me as the light was green and the pedestrian signals at this intersection didn’t appear to be the typical walk/don’t walk signs that you usually see at intersections regulated by a traffic light.

I continue to approach, noting the substantial amount of pedestrians crossing the road that ends at the T, meaning they were paralleling me as I was driving through. Not sure if there was a school around that area or what have you cause there were a good few people crossing. That’s pretty normal considering the what the green light was indicating at the time, but I still was a bit flustered because of the two signals apparently contradicting each other. There was no pedestrian in the crosswalk that I was soon gonna be driving through that I could see, so I proceeded through the intersection. In the middle of the intersection, I noticed a pedestrian on the opposite side of the road as me, about at the curb or maybe 1 or 2 steps off it. Oncoming traffic heading towards me was also stopped at this point, presumably either to wait for him or because a vehicle was waiting for the other crosswalk to clear before making a left turn.

I didn’t see him as I was approaching either because there was an obstruction (like a parked car or something similar) or because I didn’t scan the intersection 100% thanks to being flustered from the different situation. Either way, I only saw him when I was in the intersection and I couldn’t have stopped by then of course. He wasn’t even terribly too close to the truck I was in but it was still confusing. Should I have done anything different? This took place in Minnesota where you’re supposed to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, but he looked like he had just about stepped off the curb as I was already in the intersection. Pedestrians kind of freak me out because of the setbacks you could face if you hit one because of a mistake on your part or because the pedestrian was being stupid. Unless I somehow seriously misjudged this intersection, whatever traffic light was there was green and there wasn’t anyone in the crosswalk I was gonna drive through that I could have stopped for. Thanks for any answers in advance.

My guess is the pedestrian was prematurely stepping off the curb.
We have a number of MN residents on this forum, they can comment on the pedestrian signals strobing.

I’m in MN also. We have bike paths that cross roads. Law says you have to stop for peds if they are in road at a marked crosswalk. No stop if they are standing on curb. So, you are left to judge if ped is going to step off curb or not. And look in mirror to see if speeder Behind you is slowing. this is road to high school. slow drivers.

In Minnesota the law says you must stop for a pedestrian coming toward you in a crosswalk. Even if the crosswalk is very long and they’re on the opposite side of the street from you, you’re supposed to stop until they cross in front of your car.

I remember when that law went into effect, there was a crosswalk in St. Paul that went across a very wide boulevard. Cops were ticketing people for driving through the crosswalk when a pedestrian was 6 lanes (plus median width) away simply because the median ended slightly before the crosswalk and therefore the road wasn’t technically divided. Personally, I thought that was asinine. I get the reasoning behind it, because drivers are aggressive jerks and will enter the crosswalk even if there’s a guy directly in front of their cars, but there should be a happy medium such that you can be within the law without having to wait 2 minutes for a pedestrian to get to your lane.

All that aside, pedestrians in any state have automatic right of way no matter where they are or what the signs say. They can be ticketed for jaywalking if they cross against the don’t walk sign, but you’re still supposed to stop and let them do it, even if you’re supposed to have the right of way.

As for your specific situation, once they step off the curb, you’re supposed to stop. And in fact I’ve seen police sting operations where they’ll employ people to walk across the street all day, and you’ll get a ticket if the people look like they’re ready to step into the crosswalk and you don’t stop. This is also dumb, because there are lots of times that pedestrians will hang around at curbs having no intention of crossing, but as the driver you have no idea if they’re going to start crossing or not.

Appears laws need to be changed, pedestrians crossing against the light (old signals would say “Don’t Walk”) should not have the right of way.
Stupid thing Florida DOT came up with, pedestrian crossings that have flashing amber rather than red stop lights at non-intersection pedestrian crossings. Some in 45 MPH zones. Public doesn’t like it, cities don’t like it, only Tallahassee likes it.

Tough sell. They need the right of way even when they’re not supposed to be there because what’s the alternative? We can’t make it OK to run down pedestrians just because they’re being stupid.

I even understand the “stop no matter how far away from you they are in the crosswalk” bit, because I’ve had drivers pass within inches of me while I was in a crosswalk legally. “I didn’t hit him and therefore it’s OK” isn’t good enough. In our society’s overly-exacting legal framework, everything has to be clear and easily interpretable by a “reasonably prudent person.” Most people aren’t good at judging distance, so telling them not to be within 6 feet of a pedestrian doesn’t work. The only real way to make it unambiguous is to say “if they’re in the crosswalk, you stop.”

1 Like

. Public doesn’t like it, cities don’t like it, only Tallahassee likes it.

There is the problem Tallahassee is not really Florida it is in LA aka known as lower Alabama. :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

So true, Panama City was nice in the seventies, the Redneck Riviera, now canyons created by timeshares.

1 Like

Thanks for all the responses. As I said, the first time I saw the pedestrian was pretty much when he was literally directly to the left of my front door, not 6 inches away from it or anything, but on the curb or a step or two off, so there was nothing I could do at that point. Stopping for people numerous lanes away is kind of annoying especially if the vehicles passing through the crosswalk have time to clear. The whole thing about that intersection having amber yield lights as opposed to walk/don’t walk signals is a bunch of mumbo jumbo in my mind and that’s most likely the reason I got flustered and wasn’t as aware as I should’ve been. Being told to stop on a green light especially when I didn’t have 100% proof that a pedestrian was on the curb throws you through a loop. Personally I feel very guilty about it as I aspire to not be one of those drivers everyone complains about.

`Thank goodness no pedestrians up north by Brainerd MN

I’ll beg to differ a little on the law but you can read it yourself. A ped needs to obey the signals. On a cross walk they must stay on the curb until there are no cars close by. They can’t just jump out and expect a car to stop for them. Once in the crosswalk, you have to stop until they pass by. There are no great privileges afforded to the ped in a non-crosswalk area. Of course you want to not hit them but University students seem to think they can just jump out anywhere on the road and you have to stop for them. The law is much misunderstood.

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/169.21

We have a few similar crossings here but every one i know of requires you to hit a walk button and then you step to the curb and wait for traffic to stop, and they’re a distance from the next traffic light. @Bing describes things basically as Washington’s law states, if they’re on your side of the cross walk then you’d have to stop until they pass by but if they’re crossing from the other side you only need to stop when they get closer to your lane. They don’t have the right to just dart out if you don’t have room or time to stop. A sadly departed former co-worker tried to cross a 5 lane major road and was hit by a car that had no way to stop in time. Died 3 days later in the hospital. More recently they added a couple cross walks to that stretch of road including roughly where he tried to cross.

In my area if a pedestrian activates the cross signal the traffic signals change to red.

To have all directions with a green signal would be chaos.

We have the push for walk lights, always on the lookout while crossing the street. Just because you have the walk light no guarantee of safety.

1 Like

@Barkydog I love Brainerd, MN! I worked at a summer camp two years at east gull lake. I’m so jealous of you living in such a beautiful place!

2 Likes

Honestly that’s how I wish most places were like. Obviously if someone is already in the middle of the road, you can’t just hit them, but I wish there weren’t as many incentives for pedestrians to cross wherever they please, and I also wish all traffic lights were equipped with some sort of walk/don’t walk signal so you don’t have people looking to cross on a green light with these amber strobing lights. That’s just asking for trouble. May your co-worker rest in peace and hopefully the person who hit him can/has gotten over that. That must’ve just been bad in every respect.

Traffic lights have some form of the walk/don’t walk signal. Audible wait to cross (street name) which changes to walk sign is on to cross. The Amber lights on crossings are only used where you have long blocks between lights and well signed.

Ah, thanks for that info. I wouldn’t necessarily know because I rarely use crosswalks like the one I was describing because I live rural and the times I’m walking in the city are few and far between and there aren’t many more times that I drive in areas like that, so it’s just relatively foreign to me still. Ah well, lesson learned for the future.

After all these replies, I think I am more confused.
One or more replies indicated a pedestrian always has the option to cross against a light.
I grew up and learned to drive in Minneapolis, got my license in 1966. Back then it was simple, if, as a pedestrian, you wanted to cross a street, you pushed the button and waited for the Don’t walk light to change to Walk , the light turned green, you still looked both ways before crossing. Simple, why did the states, including Florida, come up with flashing amber means stop for pedestrians? We have had pedestrians killed, traffic got the flashing amber, pedestrians no longer are taught to look left and right before crossing.