Pedestrian crossings

In the UK we call them zebra crossings becuase they have black and white stripes. Failing to stop for pedestrians is worse than slapping the queen. Now i am in the USA, i stop at pedestrian crossings ,to allow people to cross, but i am the only onw who does. Further more, drivers will honk at me and then over take with “what the heck are you doing” look on their face.

Am i supposed to stop for pedestrans at a crossing, or does the motorist have right of way? Thanks for any help with this.

Most all crossings in the US are at corners, and the pedestrians have to move according to the crossing signals (if present) or the traffic lights (if not). If you have the green, you do not have to stop and allow pedestrians to cross. That said, pedestrians do have the right of way, no impacts allowed! Take a US acquaintance on a drive and have him explain it at any confusing intersections.

In many states of the US, pedestrians have the right of way at all times. In other jurisdictions, pedestrians have the right of way only if they are crossing at a marked “crosswalk”.

I strongly suggest that you find out about the appropriate statutes in the state where you currently reside. In NJ, where I live, a pedestrian has the right of way if he/she is in a marked crosswalk, and drivers are supposed to stop for the pedestrian. That being said, when I stop under these circumstances, I do tend to get dirty looks from other motorists who are either ignorant of the regulations or perhaps are homicidal in nature.

You have to remember that the existence of a statute does not mean that everyone is aware of it, or that the ones who are aware of it will obey it.

It’s supposed to be a universal thing. If there’s a pedestrian in a cross-walk, they have the right-of-way. I mean, a person against a vehicle doesn’t have a chance. And if you hit a person with your vehicle while they’re in a cross-walk, the attorney’s for that victim will get everything they can from your insurance company.

The people honking the horns are stupid! And don’t know the laws.


In MA and NH if someone is in the crosswalk you are REQUIRED to stop. From my observation I think about 10% actually stop.

Technically, all pedestrians have the right of way, and if they’re in a crosswalk (or even motioning like they might be about to enter one), you’re supposed to stop.

In practice, most drivers will not stop unless the light is red or there are already people actively crossing. Stopping to allow someone to start crossing, like it or not, is probably going to get you rear-ended sooner or later.

Pedestrians have the right of way, but many Americans either don’t know it or don’t care. This is a car-centric culture. NOTHING interferes with our automotive progress down the road.

Steve Martin made fun of this automotive culture in several of his movies.

Thank you for being so considerate. I also stop for pedestrians in cross-walks, or zebra crossings, if you prefer, and I don’t care if people honk their horns. The horn-honkers are wrong, and they need to be taught the error of their ways.

In many small towns in New England, people stop. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere else where that’s expected.

Here in NY state, it’s common to see little signs placed in the middle of the road reminding motorists to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Not that they get obeyed all that much… or that pedestrians bother to look both ways before stepping out. The only problem with running them down is that it can damage the car, and then their lawyers can damage you!

I’m waiting for a law/sign that says, “Exercise common sense, or be shot!” The roads would soon be empty.

Actually this is based on state laws which can vary a little from state to state. In Minnesota, yes, pedestrians already in the crosswalk have the right of way and you must stop for them. However, many pedestrians think they can just jump out into the street and cars will stop. In MN, pedestrians must wait until until they can cross without restricting traffic. (Many peds in MN now falsely think they have the right of way all of the time>) You have no obligation to stop to allow someone to cross and impede traffic yourself. They need to wait until traffic clears. Of course at a signaled crossing, they never have the right of way when the light is red, and always have it when the light is green. Also peds never have the right of way jaywalking or at an unmarked crosswalk. Never stop and wave a pedestrian across when they do not have the right away. If you do and something happens to them, you can be held liable. This is highly misunderstood by drivers and pedestrians alike but we went over and over this issue at our insurance company’s drivers training.

Ever try to cross the street in Prague by the way? Those folks actually try to run you over.

. In Minnesota, yes, pedestrians already in the crosswalk have the right of way and you must stop for them.

In NH and MA if the crosswalk as a light you are NOT allowed to enter the crosswalk if it’s red. If no light then you can enter the crosswalk and PRAY the cars are going to stop.

Follow the local culture, and laws. Both vary state to state, and even within a state. I live in Massachusetts. In the Western part of the state people will stop and wait for pedestrians uncomplainingly. In the Eastern part of the state, good luck! You may get your best answer from your neighbors/co-workers etc.

According to my brother in law who is a cop here in GA. He says that contrary to popular belief, pedestrians do not always have the right of way. He says here in GA pedestrians at intersections where there is a traffic control device ie. traffic signal, MUST obey the traffic control device. If a pedestrian crosses against the light and gets hit, the pedestrian is at fault and can be cited for violation of pedestrian duties. If a pedestrian crosses the roadway and is not in a crosswalk and gets hit, once again, the pedestrian is at fault. He told me that many times when he has worked a vehicle-v-pedestrian accident, he has had to go to the hospital and cite the pedestrian right there in the ER or in the back of an ambulance. We have a big problem in the subdivision where I live with people jogging and walking their dogs and pushing their baby strollers in the roadway. Our entire subdivision has sidewalks on both sides of the road but these people insist on being in the roadway. These are the same people who complain of speeding cars in the subdivision.


i live in the uk,but last week i was in new york.the traffic was terrible,and i think i know why!!every street had traffic lights on it,so when a car wanted to turn out of a side street,they obviously had to wait for a green light,but as you start to turn,the pedestrian crossings then turn to go for pedestrians!!so that means only 1 or 2 cars are able to actually get out of the side street at a time!!this is crazy! in the uk everyone has a turn,cars would get a green light,then pedestrians get a green light,usually every 2 times of the traffic light,also we have a lot of roundabouts to keep the traffic flowing.

No wonder smallcar is perplexed about the situation. Judging by the replies from around the country, how would any of us know what to do when traveling outside of our immediate home surroundings? My common sense tells me that the risks to pedestrian vs. motorist are so disproportionate that the pedestrian should enjoy the protection of the law, except in the most extreme circumstances. Seems like a good place to try to agree on one approach and standardize it throughout the land. Fat chance, huh?

The risks to the pedestrian versus the vehicle ARE so disproportionate. The roadway was made for vehicular traffic only, not for pedestrians. But since there are times where pedestrians must cross the roadway, there are special traffic control devices in place to enable them to get across the roadway safely. It should be the pedestrians duty to use these devices for their own safety as well as to maintain acceptable vehicular traffic flow. Pedestrians have their place and thats called a sidewalk. Can you imagine if pedestrians were given 100% right of way all the time, anywhere and they were allowed to cross the roadways anywhere they want? Traffic would be a nightmare and there would be a lot more hurting pedestrians out there. There HAS to be some sort of control.


You’re quite right, that if pedestrians were allowed to be out in the travelled roadway wherever and whenever they wished, that would be bedlam. But the OP wasn’t referring to that situation; he was asking specifically about marked crosswalks, and that’s the context in which I was commenting.

By the book the pedestrian has the right of way at uncontrolled intersections. The reality of the traffic-pedestrian relationship is that it is very much a local custom phenomenon. In San Francisco, I understand that everyone stops for pedestrians. They also ticket jaywalkers. In Philadelphia, when I lived there, the driving police often intimidated pedestrians on crosswalks. In New Orleans a few years ago, I once saw a city bus cut off an old woman with a walker crossing the street at Tulane and Loyola (Elks Place). She had to back up on the crosswalk. It was pathetic. I took the bus number and wrote a letter to the transit agency.

In the last state where I checked the vehicle code, the pedestrian has the right of way in marked and unmarked crosswalks. The latter are defined as any intersection where the road/street met at roughly right angles. In that state one day, I got off my bicycle and stepped onto a crosswalk that crossed three busy lanes in each direction (no light, but signs that said to stop for pedestrians). One car stopped and precipitated a three-car accident where another car rear-ended him and another rear-ended that one. I felt bad for the first driver, but not the other two. I was waving the first guy by because I could see that the others would not be able to stop. I hopped on my bicycle and continued on my way. The speed limit was probably 35 which means that the morning rush was probably 50. People routinely shot around other cars that they observed slowing in front of them rather than look around to see what the issue was.

A big problem around here is also that the pedestrians are so cowed that they don’t respond to cars stopping for them. They seem to think it is a trick. They also don’t pay attention when standing at a corner waiting to cross.

Let’s assume that a pedestrian is in the crosswalk and is not crossing against a light, or walking directly into traffic. The pedestrian is a reasonable person with a reasonable expectation of crossing the street. Anyone who injures the pedestrian with a car can be indicted for assault. With a car, it might easily be elevated to attempted murder. Anyone who kills that pedestrian is guilty of murder.

But most people are incredibly rude and just don’t care. There was a news report on TV a few months ago about a long, straight street with a cross walk. There were signs and flashing yellow lights to alert drivers that a pedestrian might cross. Almost every one of the drivers ignored the pedestrians as they sped by at aver 50 MPH - or more. I’m sure it’s the same almost everywhere.

In California, pedestrians have the right of way ANYWHERE except on the freeway. Doesn’t mean they can’t be cited for jaywalking or crossing against a red light. It just means (legally) between the car and the pedestrian, the law sides with the pedestrian. Exceptions made for jump outs, etc in the case of an accident.