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Michigan pedestrian crosswalk laws

The 5 Michigan Pedestrian Crosswalk Laws You Should Know

December 17, 2019

In the last decade, pedestrian deaths have increased by more than 50% across the country. In Michigan last year, 145 pedestrians died and 1,820 were injured in motor vehicle accidents. While crosswalks are designed to increase safety, many people are not familiar with Michigan pedestrian crosswalk laws. Who has the right of way? Are drivers required to come to a full stop? Here’s a helpful guide.

Who has the right of way at a crosswalk?

You may be surprised to learn that Michigan does not have a specific set of laws for crosswalks. Therefore, while some municipalities have established their own rules, most follow the Michigan Uniform Traffic Code.

Here are five important pedestrian crosswalk laws:

  • Motorists must yield to pedestrians on the same half of the roadway as an approaching vehicle. 
  • Pedestrians walking lawfully in a crosswalk, such as those with “walk” and “don’t walk” signals, have the right of way.
  • Pedestrians do not have the right of way if they unexpectedly leave the curb and cross in front of a moving vehicle. However, to avoid an accident, drivers should always stop or yield to pedestrians in their path.
  • Drivers are not required to yield to pedestrians who are:
    • Waiting on the curb.
    • Crossing outside of a marked crosswalk.
    • Walking against a “don’t walk” signal or otherwise crossing illegally. (However, drivers should always stop to avoid hitting a pedestrian, regardless of who has the right of way).
  • While drivers are required to yield to pedestrians in certain situations, they are not required to come to a complete stop.

Certain municipalities have enacted their own ordinances to make crosswalks more pedestrian-friendly. Therefore, in cities such as Ann Arbor, Traverse City, and Grand Rapids, drivers must stop for pedestrians already in a crosswalk as well as those standing on the curb.

What are the most common causes of pedestrian accidents?

Traffic safety experts have found two major reasons for the rise in pedestrian accidents. The first is the increased number of SUVs on our roads today. Because these vehicles have a higher front-end profile, it is harder for drivers to see pedestrians in their path. In addition, SUVs are larger and heavier than most passenger vehicles. Therefore, pedestrians who are struck by SUVs have a greater chance of dying or being critically injured from the impact.

Distracted drivers and walkers are the second major cause of pedestrian accidents. Walkers who are looking down at their cell phones are more likely to be hit by a driver who fails to yield. At the same time, drivers who are distracted may not see a pedestrian until it’s too late to stop.

Safety tips for pedestrians

  • Never assume a driver sees you. Be sure a driver is going to stop or yield before stepping out into the street, even if you have the right of way. If in doubt, wait until traffic is clear.
  • If possible, make eye contact with approaching drivers to make sure they have seen you.
  • Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right. Drivers who are turning are less likely to stop for pedestrians.
  • Cross at a crosswalk, or an intersection with traffic signals, whenever possible.

Safety tips for drivers

  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk.
  • Always yield to pedestrians walking in a crosswalk.
  • Stop before you reach the crosswalk to allow other drivers to see that people are crossing.
  • Never pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.
  • For safety’s sake, give all pedestrians the right of way, even those who may be crossing illegally.

If you do have an accident, as a driver or a pedestrian, contact us immediately. Our experienced accident lawyers will help protect your rights and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Michigan pedestrian crosswalk laws are complicated, but finding the right attorney is simple.

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.