Rules of the Road: When must I stop for pedestrians?


Question: Another pesky pedestrian question: I am driving on a street without stop signs in my direction. The cross streets, however, have stop signs. Am I supposed to stop for the pedestrian walking and planning to cross on those cross streets? Are they bound by the stop sign (as cars would be) or am I required to stop for them no matter?

Answer: I like pesky pedestrian questions - at least then I know people are thinking about their driving. Pedestrians are not bound by stop signs as cars are. If you see a pedestrian approaching the intersection who plans on crossing, you need to yield to them. Pedestrians must not "dart out" in front of a vehicle if the vehicle is too close to safely stop. The pedestrian must give the driver a chance to see them and stop. In intersections controlled by traffic signals, the pedestrians must follow the pedestrian control signals that are attached.

Q: What do you think of bicyclists who ride to the front of traffic at a red light and then possibly proceed as though it were green?

A: My opinion is as long as there is space to the right of traffic (and it is not a right-turn-only lane), I do not mind bicycles that ride to the front of the line. If they proceed through a red signal, I am extremely pleased when they are cited for failing to obey the red signal (because they have to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicles do).


Rules of the Road is a regular column with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices.

Answers come from David Wright, a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now serving on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.

For previous Rules of the Road columns or to ask a question, go to

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