Monday, July 2, 2012

DOT Answers: Who should yield: Driver or pedestrian?

DOT Answers: Who should yield: Driver or pedestrian?
The Providence Journal – July 1, 2012
Dana Alexander Nolfe

Q: What is the proper procedure and current law regarding a crosswalk with a corresponding traffic device?

Specifically, a crosswalk and traffic light at a non-intersection. Should a driver yield to a pedestrian who steps into a crosswalk against a green light? It seems unwise to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk if the light is green. It can be dangerous for both the pedestrian and the stopped vehicle as vehicles behind might focus on the green light and fail to notice the motor vehicle that is trying to yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk.

It is my understanding in R.I. that a driver must yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Which device should the motor vehicle operator obey when they are in conflict?

— Tom B., Rumford

A: There are several R.I. General Laws that encompass the answers you are looking for. R.I. Law, 31-18-8, Due care by drivers, states that a driver, “shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle.”

RI Law 31-18-3, Right-of-way in crosswalk, states that in absence of a traffic control signal a driver, “shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk.”

RI Law 31-13-6, Specifications and meaning of traffic lights, paragraph 3 ii states that, “no pedestrian facing the signal shall enter the roadway unless he or she can do so safely and without interfering with any vehicular traffic.”

Motorists and pedestrians always need to be safe, watch out for one another, and follow the rules of the road.

Dana Alexander Nolfe, chief public affairs officer for the state Department of Transportation, answers questions of general interest posed by Journal readers about state roads and other state transportation matters. Questions are answered in the order they appear, and there may be a delay in responding. The DOT is responsible for the state’s transportation infrastructure, which includes highways, bridges, traffic signals and bikeways. To ask a question that would also be of interest to other readers, send a letter to Ask RIDOT, Features Department, The Providence Journal, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902. You can also e-mail your question to  . Please put “Question for the DOT” in the subject field. Questions or complaints of a specific nature should be posed to the DOT directly and will not be answered in this column.

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