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pedestrian crosswalk laws | Sam Bernstein

Pedestrian Crosswalk Laws in Michigan

January 22, 2019

When you encounter a pedestrian crosswalk, do you know what to do? Many people assume pedestrians have the right of way, but this is not always the case. Crosswalk laws can be tricky, for pedestrians and drivers. Do pedestrians have the right of way? What are the pedestrian crosswalk laws in Michigan? You want to have the answers before you’re standing at the curb with traffic whizzing past.

Pedestrian deaths across the country have increased by more than 46% in the last 10 years. Experts attribute this alarming rise to several factors, including:

  • More people walking outdoors for fitness and transportation
  • A greater number of SUV’s and vehicles with high front-end profiles that make it difficult to see pedestrians
  • An increase in distracted driving, largely due to cell phone use
  • Distracted pedestrians looking at their phones instead of paying attention to traffic conditions

To help you stay safe when traveling on foot, here is an overview of Michigan pedestrian crosswalk laws.

Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way at Crosswalks?

The answer is a resounding “it depends.” First of all, there is no specific law governing the use of crosswalks in Michigan. Therefore, most municipalities follow the Michigan Uniform Traffic Code. It allows pedestrians the right of way in certain circumstances:

  • Pedestrians on the same half of the roadway as an approaching vehicle have the right of way. In those instances, the motorist must yield to the pedestrian.
  • Pedestrians also have the right of way when they are walking lawfully in a crosswalk. This includes crosswalks with “walk” and “don’t walk” signals.

Pedestrians do not have the right of way in the following situations:

  • When they suddenly leave the curb and enter the crosswalk in the path of a moving vehicle.
  • When crossing outside of a marked crosswalk.
  • When they cross a street illegally, such as walking against a “don’t walk” signal.
  • While waiting on the curb of a crosswalk.

Pedestrian Crosswalk Laws Regarding Stopping vs. Yielding

The Michigan Uniform Traffic Code requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in certain situations. Surprisingly, it does not require motorists to come to a complete stop. For this reason, certain Michigan municipalities have enacted individual pedestrian-friendly ordinances. For example, Ann Arbor drivers must stop for pedestrians within a crosswalk and those standing on the curb. The same is true for Traverse City and Grand Rapids.

Many transportation officials recommend passing a state-wide law requiring motorists to stop or yield for pedestrians. However, until this happens, pedestrians should be alert and cautious when using crosswalks.

To complicate matters further, pedestrian crosswalk laws also vary from state to state. Therefore, it’s important to know the local laws when you travel to other parts of the country.

“When in doubt, it’s better for pedestrians to err on the side of caution,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “If an oncoming car is not slowing down, do not enter the crosswalk, even if you have the right of way. If you or a loved one is injured in a traffic accident, call us immediately to get the benefits you deserve.”

Michigan traffic laws are complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.

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

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