Who’s meant to give way?

The law says that motorists turning into a street must give way to pedestrians crossing that street.

The law also says that motorists turning in or out of a private property (such as a carpark) must give way to pedestrians.

So why does the signage always imply it’s the pedestrian that should be the one to give way?

Why warn the pedestrians, but not the motorists (who are meant to give way)?

OK, obviously it’s good for pedestrians to be aware of cars coming through, in case they don’t give way, but perhaps signage should also remind the motorists of their legal obligations (since a few appear to be unaware)?

And I wonder if there would ever come a point where building codes reflect what the law says, and preclude building high walls/fences/hedges which cause blind corners?… or ensure that mirrors or some other precaution must be undertaken so that motorists can see those they’re meant to be giving way to?

Blind corners

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

9 replies on “Who’s meant to give way?”

From past experience in local government circles I recall councils’ statutory planners making referrals to councils’ traffic engineers on that issue of “blind corners”. Planning permits can include conditions requiring a fence to be splayed at the corner, or requiring mirrors, etc

AS 2890.1 Parking facilities – Off-street car parking specifies a minimum setback of 2m along the street and 5m back from the footpath. Maybe in this case the development plan does not require compliance as it’s a driveway not used much, or development approval was not sought.

Below the building where I work is a public car park, I see cars zooming out of the car park crossing the footpath at dangerous speeds and then stopping to give way to traffic, there’s no logic just idiots who have no idea what could happen in that 1 in 100 chance that there will be a pedestrian in their way (I also see a lot of kids being chased by their parents in front of the driveway, kids love to make a run for it).

But there’s also pedestrians who ignore the “No pedestrian access” warning at the head of the driveway to stop ppl walking down a winding path to the car park when a set of stairs is close by, this is especially popular with the elderly who don’t like the stairs but have no chance when a car comes flying out.

One of the things I’ve learnt as I’ve gotten older, sure there’s a small chance that the worst will happen but over time it will, sooner or later.

I’m not trying to incite a flame war, but pedestrians are non-compliant. As a cyclist, I would much rather mix it with cars than pedestrians as they are generally more predictable. When in a mixed mode of transport environment, I make allowances for this and give them plenty if room an warning.

Having said that, while cars must yield to pedestrians (no such thing as right of way in Australian road rules), it is prudent for the more vulnerable party to exercise caution… It just doesn’t always happen that way.

When I am a pedestrian, I do occasionally force the issue of who is supposed to give way (safetly, of course!) there is definitely a lack of knowledge about the road rules out there (even besides those who ignore them)

This is one of my biggest bugbears too. For 8 years I walked my children to and from school crossing a busy road on the way (with no crossing or lights – which is why my kids weren’t walking alone) and I estimate that 90% of the cars turning into the street just near where we crossed didn’t even bother to look to check that any pedestrians were there. It was rare for any driver who did look to actually give way as well. During my walks with the kids I saw many in incidents including one where a driver backed straight out of their driveway into an elderly man already crossing the road. Fortunately he was not injured but he did bash the back of the car repeatedly with his walking stick (and it was only then that the driver realised he was there).

I’ve taught my children not to cross a road in such situations (where a crossing is not available) unless they catch the eye of drivers and are sure that they have been seen. Now that they are travelling to school by bus they just have to cross one busy road to get to the bus stop and fortunately for them the traffic always seems to be at a standstill due to the rail line just up the way.

My pet peeve is councils who fence the pedestrians away from the intersection proper (where they have rights) as defined by the property boundaries to the adjacent road (where they don’t).

Also, be aware that the new rules (the Australia-wide uniform ones) explicitly removes the old pedestrian rights regarding vehicles leaving a roundabout.

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