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MAYORWatch: What Should Drivers do When a Pedestrian is Waiting on the Sidewalk?

Mayor Michael Victorino answers weekly questions submitted to his office staff.

Question: Recently, I hit a four-way stop and drivers had no idea what to do when a pedestrian is standing on the corner. It seems like most people know you’re supposed to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, but what do you do when they’re waiting on the sidewalk?

Answer: This is a very good question, and I think a good rule of thumb for both drivers and pedestrians is to always proceed with caution.

That being said, pedestrians generally have the right-of-way in crosswalks, especially at a four-way stop. Drivers naturally have to stop at a stop sign, which would give time for pedestrians to make their way across the street.

The only condition state law provides is that a pedestrian cannot suddenly leave the curb and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield. This can come into play when people try to cross mid-block crosswalks, where cars do not have a stop sign or traffic signal.

I realize sometimes pedestrians will motion for you to pass in your vehicle, which you can oblige, but it’s a good habit to give pedestrians the right-of-way regardless of the situation. Here are seven tips for driving safely in Maui County, as provided by the state Department of Transportation:

  1. Always be prepared to stop when approaching a crosswalk. A pedestrian may be hidden from view.
  2. Be vigilant. Always look for pedestrian movement in your direction.
  3. Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Proceed when the pedestrian has safely passed your vehicle.
  4. Be aware that pedestrians can be hidden from view by stopped vehicles on multi-lane streets.
  5. When driving between dusk and dawn, watch for pedestrians in dark clothing. Always use your headlights.
  6. Always watch for pedestrians when backing out of driveways or parking stalls. Children can be hidden from view.
  7. Make sure that you are fit to drive. Any physical or medical changes can alter your driving abilities.

While there are many laws that protect pedestrians on a crosswalk, it doesn’t do much good healing broken bones or bringing you back to life. Here are seven more tips for walking safely in Maui County:

  1. Always cross the street at a crosswalk. When no crosswalk is available, please cross at a corner.
  2. Be vigilant. Always look left-right-left and continue to look while crossing the street.
  3. Do not enter the crosswalk if the light indicator is counting down. The countdown is for pedestrians already in the crosswalk.
  4. Always walk when crossing the street. Never run.
  5. Always wear bright or reflective clothing when walking between dusk and dawn.
  6. Always watch for vehicles backing out of driveways or parking stalls. Drivers don’t always see you.
  7. If there is no sidewalk, always walk on the side of the roadway facing on-coming traffic.

Finally, streets and roundabouts designed to slow down speeding cars, and well-marked crosswalks also are critical to keeping everyone safe. Vision Zero is an effort our Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization is taking to eliminate traffic deaths by designing our transportation system so that people walking and biking don’t pay for mistakes with their lives. To learn more, click here.

For more information on safe walking and driving, click here.

Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at [email protected], by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email [email protected]

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