Article posted Thursday, June 25, 2009 3:21pm

Dear Mary Pat,

Can you remind me what the deal is with pedestrians? There are so many of them swarming around the county this time of year and I can never remember who gets the right of way and all that stuff when I’m driving. Some days it feels like an obstacle course with people darting in and out of cars and off of the sidewalks. Please give me the heads up so that I can try to do my part.


Behind the Wheel

Dear Behind the Wheel,

You think it feels like an obstacle course. I liken driving and looking out for pedestrians to a video game where there are hidden dangers and traps waiting to strike when you least expect it.

If it were a video game, the pedestrians would probably go SPLAT! when they were hit and then maybe the game would be over. Since these are real people, we will obviously not want that to be the outcome. (Well, at least not in most cases. People walking in distinct shopping areas while not carrying any shopping bags may be an allowable exception…)

All kidding aside, you really do have to be careful when behind the wheel. Below are the rules taken from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Web site. For more details, see link below:

Drivers must:

• Yield to pedestrians when crossing a sidewalk or entering an alley or driveway

• Yield to pedestrians who have started crossing at an intersection or crosswalk on a “walk” signal or a green light, if there is no walk signal

• Yield to pedestrians who are crossing the highway within a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection where there are no traffic lights or control signals

• Not overtake and pass any vehicle that stops at an intersection or crosswalk to permit a pedestrian or bicyclist to cross the roadway safely

Pedestrians must:

• Yield to drivers when crossing a road where there is no intersection or crosswalk or where the pedestrian does not have a green or “walk” signal and where vehicles have a green signal

• Not suddenly move into the path of a closely approaching vehicle that does not have sufficient time to yield for a pedestrian

• Walk on and along the left side of a highway when not walking on a sidewalk. (Note:  This law does not apply to bicycles. Bicycles operate under the same laws as other legal vehicles on the road and should always stay on the right side of the road.)

Good luck,

Mary Pat