This is the law

I’ve written about this before, but just so it’s absolutely clear, I’m going to include a picture[1] with the text:

When turning left or right at any intersection (except a roundabout) you must give way to any pedestrians crossing the road you are turning into.

Give way to pedestrians when turning

— source: VicRoads: Driving in Victoria — Rules and Responsibilities, pages 35 and 39.

I’m pretty narked off that a 4WD owner[2] I encountered yesterday not only didn’t know this, but when challenged said it was not true.

I was in a hurry, and in no mood to give way to vehicles I was not obliged to, if I could possibly help it. I signalled him to stop, which he did. I then crossed in front of him, and since his window was down, told him he had to give way. When he claimed otherwise, I didn’t swear, but I did get a bit shouty, and told him to check his road rules. He drove off.

I hope he does check the laws and gets educated. It annoys me that some people are out there, driving around, ignorant of basic rules.

[1]The picture actually comes from a later section which talks about T-intersections, but appears to have been drawn to illustrate the point for other intersections as well.

[2]With a bullbar fitted. Because you really need them driving along Centre Road.

Update Sunday morning: Similar situation with a VW Golf driver yesterday afternoon.

Note that different rules apply to vehicles coming out of streets you’re crossing (peds should give way) and on roundabouts (peds should give way). On entrances/exits to private property, such as car parks and shopping centres, drivers should always give way.

Most importantly, always use your common sense — no matter what the law, if the other person is not going to stop, don’t put yourself or them in danger.

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28 Replies to “This is the law”

  1. I think there is an argument for requiring a resit (just on the computer) of basic road rules every 10 years or so on licence renewal. Particularly emphasizing pedestrian/bicycle/tram etc rules, as we move oh-so slowly to transport forms other than just cars.

  2. The same also applies to U-turns, but how many drivers (particularly taxi drivers) know and/or care about that?

    To be honest I think you’re brave walking out in front of a 4WD, even though you’re in the right – it’s a lot bigger than you are.

  3. daniel
    thanks for spelling it out.
    I didn’t know that I didn’t have to give way to peds on a round about. You learn something every day!

  4. I prefer to stick to the law of the jungle myself. There is only one winner in a battle between a 1500kg car and a 80kg man.

  5. Thank you for an excellent post (I had a ‘discussion’ with the husband on this topic earlier in the week.) Lots of people don’t know that pedestrians have right of way. It really matters to us here in Sydney as the traffic is so busy where we live that if cars didn’t stop to let us through, we’d been on the corner for ages trying to get to school.

  6. Roger, this is quite right. Pedestrians at roundabouts have no rights at all. I suggest that it is a problem that the law makers have not addressed.

  7. It’s not that they haven’t addressed roundabouts; they’ve gone backwards from a pedestrian point of view. Previously the same rules applied; from memory it was a couple of years ago when they changed it to the current rule:

    Unless there are specific crossings provided, there is no requirement for vehicles to give way to pedestrians at roundabouts.

    As someone who both walks and drives, I can almost understand this. As a pedestrian it’s hard to keep track of all the vehicles and know which one(s) approaching where you want to cross have turned into the roundabout vs come straight across. As a driver if you suddenly stop when leaving the roundabout, you’d may be in danger of being hit from behind… though there are locations where there are zebra crossings on the roundabout exits, so it could happen in those spots anyway.

  8. Bravo for setting him straight. This is my personal #1 most loathed driver behaviour but I’ve never had that opportunity to do more than offer an exaggerated ‘disgusted’ and/or ‘bemused’ facial expression. :)

    It’s still a wee bit chilling to find that it is indeed due to complete ignorance of the rules, rather than opportunistic ‘queue-jumping’ on a grumpy day. I’m all for Dave’s suggestion of periodic re-testing on the rules, not least because a lot of middle aged people are also out there teaching their own bad habits to their L-plater children.

  9. I always try to give way to peds when turning into a side street, peds always look so amazed, so I am thinking perhaps it’s a rule not a lot of people do know.

    PS I did laugh when you said you got a little ‘shouty’ :) Good term!

  10. Fiona, FYI the NSW RTA has the same rule in the Road Users Handbook. Page 51: pedestrians have the right of way in the road into which you are turning.

    (Given the move towards uniform road laws across Australia in recent years, I’d be reasonably confident this law applies nationwide.)

  11. This is exactly the same reason why I chronically ignore the traffic lights as a pedestrian in the CBD. You are much more likely to be hit by a turning car when the light is green, than you are to be hit by a car which is not turning.

  12. The trouble is that those who need to learn the road rules the most will always be the ones least inclined to actually do that.

  13. I’ve lost count of the number of times (at least once or twice a week) drivers have stopped in the middle of certain roundabout near my work and waved me across when I’m waiting on the traffic island/pedestrian refuge for them to pass. Drives me and the other road users mad and nearly causes an accident every time. Usually its from a car going straight through as well, which makes it all the more unbelievable. Really I’m happy to wait on the traffic island to avoid chaos, but since they wave me across I will walk.

  14. Just push a shopping trolley around in front of you whenever you can. They’ll stop quickly enough when you thrust that out onto the road in front of them. Be ready to let go instantly though, should they strike it…

  15. I have noticed that taxi drivers seem to be the most “pushy” about trying to turn in front of people crossing the street at a crosswalk with a “green man” signal. As I mentioned in a previous comment I once firmly pounded my fist on the hood/bonnet of a taxi that tried to push its way through a crosswalk full of people in the CBD.

  16. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: a jump-kick is the most effective way of impressing on these people the importance of not pissing off pedestrians. As the car begins to pass, jump as high as you can, raise your knees, then rotate your upper body down and back while straightening your dominant leg (all in a fast, flowing motion, of course). Conservation of momentum means it will have the effect of your entire weight falling on the panel that your foot makes contact with. If you’re 90kg like me, you can do about $400 worth of damage with one kick. They generally won’t get out of the car to argue, as you’ve just demonstrated that you can kick dents in steel. If you don’t have time to pull this off, or are carrying to much weight to jump, an elbow makes a big noise, and may leave a small dent if you’re lucky.

    These people are very selfish – they only care about themselves, and think they have nothing to lose by risking pedestrians’ lives. Showing them that not all pedestrians are pushovers makes them think twice next time. Appealing to their good sense doesn’t work, as they’ve already shown that they have none; appealing to the law doesn’t work, because they’ve already shown that they don’t even respect it enough to learn it.

  17. I’m not sure I’m athletic enough for that Vas, though I have pondered if I’d be quick enough to whack a sticker (with the above graphic on it) onto the bonnet/window of a car that barged its way through.

  18. Yeah, I’ve thought about stickers, although more along the lines of the “I am an inconsiderate person” stickers used in the movie Bushwhacked. I just don’t think I’d be quick enough to pull out a sticker, remove the backing and slap it on the car in that short a time period. It would definitely work for people queued across intersections, though.

  19. Can we define what a pedestrian is, for the purposes of this rule? Wiki says:

    A pedestrian is a person traveling on foot, whether walking or running. In some communities, those traveling using roller skates, skateboards, and other devices are considered pedestrians, but this was not the case historically.

    I exclude cyclists, unless they have dismounted for the crossing, and proceed across it on foot. With good cause, IMO, considering the relative speed of a bicycle compared to a pedestrian.

  20. In NSW, at least, a cyclist who is riding their bicycle or a person riding a horse is a road vehicle and should be on the road. A person leading a horse or walking a bicycle is a pedestrian. A person riding a “mobility device” not capable of travelling faster than 10km/h (basically a motorised wheelchair) is also a pedestrian. I imagine Victoria is similar.

  21. Mike, I’m sure there’d be a definition somewhere from VicRoads on precisely how “pedestrian” is defined. My guess is it would include cyclists on the footpath (who are legally permitted to ride there, if they are under 12, or accompanying someone under 12.)

    Wait, here it is, in the overview of pedestrian rules:

    Pedestrians include not only people on foot but also those on wheeled devices such as skateboards, rollerblades, wheelchairs and motorised mobility devices. A person pushing a bicycle is also considered to be a pedestrian.

  22. Sorry Daniel, but the 4×4 can still be in the right as the picture in the Vic Roads booklet is misleading in that it doesn’t show the property line. There are some councils that know these rules (Echuca for one) and put barriers on the corners extending to beyond the property boundaries, thereby giving the turning cars right of way over pedestrians.

    On the cars/peds right-of-way topic, has everyone forgotten the rules for zebra crossings? I see drivers treating them as school crossings and waiting until the ped. is totally off, not just off the relevant half. In busy shopping precincts it really jams the flow, and their propensity to wait for an approaching but distant ped. really annoys me, particularly if I’m the ped. and feel obliged to hurry up and get there rather than slow and follow behind the car at my leisure.

  23. I think I see what you’re saying — if barriers force pedestrians to cross away from the intersection, this effectively invalidates the rule.

    But this is not relevant to the vast majority of intersections, and specifically not relevant to the location where this happened, which has no barriers of any kind.

    I suspect you’re right, that people have forgotten the difference between zebra crossings and school crossings. But if that’s the case, then on the bright side, at least they’re erring on the side of caution. (I wouldn’t feel compelled to walk fast. Busy shopping precincts inevitably have traffic congestion; one ped crossing faster won’t solve it.)

  24. I’ve followed up on the Vic Roads info and ended up at http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/Domino/Web_Notes/LDMS/PubLawToday.nsf/8d7b8bff8129f677ca256da50082e1c7/4B31D131252308EFCA2576C50015AC6D/$FILE/09-94sr003.pdf
    Road Safety Road Rules 2009
    which appears to have supplanted those that we all came to know over the years. It is part of a move to Australia wide unification, and has clearly had the committee treatment. I recommend yo all look at it – there are some doosies in there, and it is going to need some new case law to sort out the bent metal.
    Eg, and pertinent to my previous post, no longer is the intersection defined by the property boundaries – it is now the road – and the road is just the traffic lanes themselves, not including the shoulder and parking bays. For Daniel’s 4×4 the give way rule is no. 72 and the 4×4 must give way to “(3) (b) any pedestrian at or near the intersection who is crossing the road the driver is entering”
    For Some Value of “near”.

    And roundabouts? Giving way to pedestrians is explicitly excluded, not even the “specific crossings provided” mention on the Vic Roads site. But the one that got me was the requirement for cyclists to give way to cars leaving the roundabout – cars which are approaching from behind and at speed.

    And speeding? Rule 20 Obeying the speed-limit
    (1) A driver must not drive at a speed over the speedlimit applying to the driver for the length of road where the driver is driving.
    Penalty:
    In the case of drivers of vehicles other than heavy vehicles exceeding the speed-limit by less than 35 km per hour, 10 penalty units.

    What happens if you are only 1K over? 10 penalty units. There is no lesser cases given, there may be some other regulation that levies fines, but this is not it, and IANAL but the above is quite definite to me as an Engineer, 10 penalty units no matter what.

    Oh, Echuca’s pedestrians can now rip down the “Pedestrians must give way” signs.

  25. I saw in the Voctorian rules fr pedestrians that it is an offence to walk out in front of a moving vehicle
    (abridged)

    Fines apply to pedestrians who commit the following offences:

    •cross against an amber or red traffic light
    •cross against an amber or red pedestrian light
    •cross the road within 20 metres of a pedestrian crossing
    •fail to cross to the nearest edge of the road after getting off a tram
    •fail to use the shortest or most direct route across a road
    •walk along or fail to give way when crossing a bicycle path
    •walk improperly on a road (by not keeping to the far side facing oncoming traffic when walking along a road where it is not practicable to use the footpath or nature strip)
    •cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver

    These rules are relatively sensible.

    In Wellington NZ pedestrians are the biggest hazard on the road. They walk out (and run) in front of vehicles at pedestrian crossings, they dont allow the driver to stop first. They walk down the center median of the street and sometimes in the lane itself with their backs to the traffic and their earphones in. They dash in front of buses and skitter their way through lanes of moving cars. Cyclists are almost as bad with instances of riding 4 abreast on open highways and treating cars as a challenge to beat.

    Pedestrians hit by buses and cyclists hit by road users is very common. The blame is always directed at the vehicle driver, yet the incidents are almost always caused by pedestrians and cyclists. I am not saying that drivers are infallible but care is expected from both sides. I have come to a sliding stop at a pedestrian crossing when a woman running thrust her pushchair out in front of me. She did an abrupt 90 degree turn and ran out without looking, I was less than 15 metres away from the crossing at the time.

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