Waiting for Pedestrians to Cross

Walk SignalAs a pedestrian in Vancouver I am feeling increasingly at risk says a visitor to this web site. Drivers want to maneuver behind pedestrians as soon as they can. What is the law about proceeding when the pedestrian is still on the street?

This question has two answers, depending if the pedestrian is at an intersection with or without operational traffic lights.

If the scenario takes place at an intersection with traffic lights, a driver must yield to pedestrians crossing lawfully and then may proceed as soon as it is safe to do so. Drivers must always exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian on the highway. In this situation, it would be wise for the driver to consider how closely they would appreciate vehicles to pass by them if the positions were reversed.

If this takes place at an intersection with no traffic lights or where the traffic lights are not in operation, a driver must not travel on the half of the highway occupied by the pedestrian or where the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the other half of the highway that the pedestrian would be in danger.

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After 30 years as a Driving Instructor, I've been asked numerous times by students 'whether I should go now' in terms of making a turn - particularly a right turn - with a potential pedestrian conflict pending; especially in the circumstance where they can probably turn across the path of a pedestrian just leaving the curb on the far side of the road.  And let's face it, no matter what dry words are written into the mighty Motor Vehicle Act, what's needed more than anything is judgment.

So instead of providing a firm answer, my response has often as not been a question back to the driver: 'How do you see your role, when you're behind the wheel? You're the one with the mass, the force, to do damage.  You're the one who may be blocking the view of that crosswalk and the people in it from the impatient guy behind you. So what do you wanna do? Use your vehicle to compete with them - or to protect them?

What if that pedestrian was your mum, with your kid brother holding her hand, crossing the road towards you?  How would you want other drivers to deal with that?  How do you want to deal with that?

Sometimes, you can tell by their expression that you just turned the light on.