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Pedestrians Can Be Wrong

July 20, 2011

By Tracy Steffenson

We have always been told that “Pedestrians always have the right of way,” well contrary to popular belief this is not true, according to Oklahoma statue.

You may be wondering what made me look this up, well the other day while heading back to the office I was getting ready to make a left hand turn onto a side street when a mother and daughter stepped right out onto the street in front of me. Of course I hit my breaks quickly which landed me partly in the other lane (oncoming traffic). Luckily for me there were no vehicles close enough to cause any issues, so I quickly correct my vehicle and got fully back in my lane.

During this, shall we say incident, the mother (who I might add never looked to see if a vehicle was coming before placing her and her child into harms way) proceeded to give me a very nasty little look. I would have accepted this look without a second thought if it would have been my fault, and I found myself thinking some very bad things about this woman. Which in turn led me on to thinking about pedestrians always having the right of way.

Upon further investigation I found that they don’t always have the right of, which of course made me smile because I was thinking she was in the wrong and I wasn’t, which is always a happy moment for me, but the law leaves it kind of open on this scenario. According to state law (47 O.S. §11-502 b) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

So after reading the statue and after a lot of thinking and wondering this is what I have came up with. She was wrong. No one saw that coming right?! I come to this conclusion because although I could yield, if there would have been any closer oncoming traffic it would have cause a collision because I wouldn’t have been able to get out of the way quickly enough and I would never run over a child. But what this mother needs to remember is we don’t always have a choice.

Here are some other times that pedestrians don’t have the right away, but this doesn’t mean it makes it ok to hit them. Pedestrians crossing the road in any other location than a marked or unmarked crosswalk is supposed to yield to traffic, pedestrians who are jaywalking are wrong. Pedestrians who are crossing at a crosswalk when the traffic-control signals are telling them not to, are wrong. And the last one I will point out (which happens a lot in our area) it is against the law for pedestrians to walk in the street if there are sidewalks for them to use.

In pointing this out, I am in no way saying it is alight to hit the pedestrians with your vehicle if they are disobeying the law. This is just for personal knowledge and so the next time a pedestrian starts to cuss you out for something you don’t think was your fault, it probably wasn’t. Pedestrians have just got too comfortable in thinking they are always in the right and have stopped paying attention, which is dangerous for everyone involved.

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