Transportation and Vehicle Safety/Cross Walk


Who has the right of way when reaching the end of a residential road to a main road and a pedestrian is approaching the edge of sidewalk before needing to cross the road. If I the driver was there first and already across where the sidewalk would be if it is were built across the road, am I in the wrong to push as far forward as needed to see oncoming traffic as the pedestrian isn't yet to the edge of the sidewalk?

Hi James,

The simple answer is, it depends.  Each state writes its own laws concerning motor vehicles.  Here in Pennsylvania, the law doesn't actually give anyone the right of way - it just says who must yield the right of way in a given situation.

As a general rule, big things are always supposed to yield to little things.  Ships yield the right of way to sailboats.  Airplanes yield the right of way to hot air balloons.  And cars yield the right of way to people.  If you are bigger, and an impact with something smaller could destroy it, you generally have to yield right of way.  It matters less who is there first than who is smaller and more vulnerable.  

For anything more specific, you would need to check your state's driver license handbook - you should be able to find a copy online at your state's DMV website.

Hope this helps!


Michael Mercadante, MS
Modern Driver Institute

Transportation and Vehicle Safety

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Michael Mercadante


Questions on traffic safety, safe performance and operation of a motor vehicle in traffic, about driving with special needs, learning/behavioral/developmental disabilities, understanding vehicle laws, understanding safety equipment on vehicles, defensive and precision driving techniques, driver education and instruction and driver exam preparation.


Owner and sole driving instructor for Modern Driver Institute. Eight years in traffic safety research on contracts for NHTSA, FMCSA, AAA, MDOT and PennDOT. More than 1,000 hours as a professional driving instructor. Licensed driving instructor in the state of PA. Certified Defensive Driving Instructor for the National Safety Council. Precision driving for Hollywood and independent films. Expertise in virtual-reality driving simulators and teaching students with developmental/intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries and more.

member, Teen Safe Driving Coalition; member, PA Safe Kids coalition; service provider, PA Bureau of Autism Services; service provider, PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

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Licensed driving instructor, PA Department of Education Certified Defensive Driving Instructor, National Safety Council B.A. in American History (cum laude), Temple University (earned 2007) M.S. in Psychology, specialization in Educational Psychology (2015) Ph.D in Psychology, specialization in Educational Psychology (expected 2019)

Awards and Honors
Scientific Paper of the Year (2003), Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine.

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