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When turning, do you have to give way to a pedestrian?

By Leon Arundell 25 March 2014 30

You’re driving south along Allara Street past the Civic Pool, and making a 45 degree left turn into Dive Lane which leads to the pool car park. If you proceed, there is a danger that you will collide with a person who is walking parallel to Allara Street, across the end of Dive lane.

According to the current ACT road rules, must you give way to the person who is crossing Dive Lane?

What’s Your opinion?


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When turning, do you have to give way to a pedestrian?
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Cimexus 3:37 pm 01 Apr 14

Leon said :

Given that Dive Lane is at 45 degrees to Allara Street, would you agree that crossing parallel to Allara Street could also be considered “essentially parallel” to Dive Lane?

Hmm. I suggest you take a look at Google Maps at this location. The situation is not as clear cut as you might think:

– One kerb (the northern/eastern) is indeed at 45 degrees to Allara St.
– The other kerb meets Allara St. close to perpendicularly.
– The mean centre-line of the road, as indicated by Google Maps when you have satellite imagery OFF (i.e. just the actual road map) actually meets as a normal, perpendicular T-intersection. The point at which the road officially ‘turns’ to a 45 degree angle is roughly where the Allara St. footpath crosses it.

If I were a lawyer arguing for a hit pedestrian in this thread’s hypothetical situation, I would be strongly arguing that crossing the way described IS essentially perpendicular to Dive Lane at that point of the road. If the pedestrian were crossing any further down the road (at the same angle), then yeah, it’d be 45 degrees. But if they are immediately adjacent to Allara St (on the footpath or on the median strip), then it’s arguable either way. It might come down to how the official maps (which Google Maps may not accurately reflect) portray the angle of the intersection.

Either way the whole “essentially perpendicular” requirement is somewhat ambiguous and subjective. Would be an interesting thing to see a real case that hinged on the interpretation of this section.

Leon 12:33 pm 01 Apr 14

JC said :

So the practical interpretation of the give way to pedestrian rule coupled with rule 236 then means that a vehicle turning must give way to a pedestrian already crossing, but a pedestrian cannot just step out and expect a vehicle to stop and give way.

That sounds about right. If a driver must give way to a pedestrian, the pedestrian should be able to to signal his or her intention to cross the road by stepping onto the road (but not so far as to cause a traffic hazard). The driver should then give way.

If the pedestrian has come from the other side of the road and is already near the middle, then the driver must give way.

Leon 12:27 pm 01 Apr 14

caf said :

I am pretty sure crossing parallel to the cross street would be considered “essentially perpendicular”, even though the road in question joins at a slight angle.

Given that Dive Lane is at 45 degrees to Allara Street, would you agree that crossing parallel to Allara Street could also be considered “essentially parallel” to Dive Lane?

MrBigEars 5:27 pm 31 Mar 14

Masquara said :

If anyone thinks you would get away in court with running down and damaging a pedestrian in that circumstance, regardless of the road rules, think again.

I did a little bit of digging and wow, this is more right than I thought. In Noseworthy v Berg, a drunk hitchhiker walking up a busy road at night stumbled into the path of a vehicle, driving properly and at a reasonable speed. Driver 60% at fault, because despite having a limited opportunity to see the drunk hitchhiker, the driver failed to take that opportunity, resulting in the accident.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/sa/SASC/1991/3015.html around 105

gazket 12:43 pm 31 Mar 14

how did you get a drivers license Leon ? No wonder 3rd party insurance is so expensive in Canberra when people don’t know basic give way rules.

Aeek 7:33 pm 30 Mar 14

If all Dive lane does is access the carpark, it may be a driveway not a road.

JC 1:39 pm 29 Mar 14

Alderney said :

It’s not really about education, the road rules are ‘strict liability’. I.E. ignorance of the law cannot be used as an excuse in court.

Therefore, if you have a motor vehicle licence it is your duty to know the rules by which you can exercise it.

Ignorance cannot be used, but the road rules are not quite as clear as some make out so ambiguity can be argued.

I did an advance driver training course 6 months back and one of the instructors was ex AFP traffic cop. He actually spoke about the very rule being discussed here and whilst vehicles in the situation described need to give way, it doesn’t mean pedestrians have right of way. In fact I was surprised to learn that nowhere in the rules does it mention someone’s right, just the need to give wa more latery.

But with pedestrians in this situation they are obliged to not create a hazard or obstruction (rule 236). Subrule 1 says ” A pedestrian must not cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver. “

So the practical interpretation of the give way to pedestrian rule coupled with rule 236 then means that a vehicle turning must give way to a pedestrian already crossing, but a pedestrian cannot just step out and expect a vehicle to stop and give way.

Oh apparently the lack of a rule for right of way stems from the fact that in all accidents no one side is ever 100% at fault with blame shared between the parties. If they defined right of way it would then make it hard to share the blame.

Now time for a quiz how do you define failure to give way?

Alderney 7:41 am 29 Mar 14

patrick_keogh said :

Leon said :

Thanks for all your contributions.

We have conclusively demonstrated that the Government needs to do a better job of educating Canberrans about the road rules – especially the new rule 353 (as of August 2013) that “If a driver who is turning from a road at an intersection is required to give way to a pedestrian who is crossing the road that the driver is entering, the driver is only required to give way to the pedestrian if the pedestrian’s line of travel in crossing the road is essentially perpendicular to the edges of the road the driver is entering – the driver is not required to give way to a pedestrian who is crossing the road the driver is leaving.”

So if you are crossing the end of Dive Lane, walking parallel with Allara Street rather than perpendicular to the edges of Dive Lane, and a driver turns into Dive Lane and hits you:
* you can be charged with causing a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver (Rule 236);
* you can be held liable for the cost of any damage that your body causes to the vehicle; and
* the driver will probably not be charged, unless there is evidence that the driver “fail[ed] unjustifiably and to a gross degree to observe the standard of care that a reasonable person would have observed in all the circumstances of the case” [Crimes Act, s. 29(7)]

If you think that’s a problem, then I suggest that you raise it with Simon Corbell or your local MLA: http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/members/current

Note: Road Rule 12 defines a road as “an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles.” On that basis, Dive Lane is a road rather than a road-related area.

Don’t forget Leon that it was already an offence to walk across Dive Lane as you have suggested. The ARRs say:

230 Crossing a road — general
(1) A pedestrian crossing a road:
(a) must cross by the shortest safe route; and
(b) must not stay on the road longer than necessary to cross the road safely.

So it has always been a requirement for the pedestrian to walk a little down Dive Lane so that they can cross by the shortest safe route. You did not ask about the perspective of the pedestrian, but about the perspective of the driver. In this case both the driver and the pedestrian are potentially commiting and offence although I note that 353 has not been tested and is plainly poorly drafted. The intent was to exclude the case of where the pedestrian was crossing the road that the driver was turning out of, but the poor drafting leads to this potential confusion.

It’s not really about education, the road rules are ‘strict liability’. I.E. ignorance of the law cannot be used as an excuse in court.

Therefore, if you have a motor vehicle licence it is your duty to know the rules by which you can exercise it.

caf 9:37 pm 28 Mar 14

I am pretty sure crossing parallel to the cross street would be considered “essentially perpendicular”, even though the road in question joins at a slight angle.

bundah 6:21 pm 28 Mar 14

For the sake of self-preservation it is far safer to wait for the turning vehicle to pass rather than the pedestrian adopting the view that the vehicle must stop so I will step in front of it regardless of the law. Of course if the driver of the vehicle stops and motion one across that’s a different scenario.

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