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Pedestrians vs Motorists - Right of way.

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enigma | 23:05 Fri 30th Mar 2007 | Law
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I was wondering if someone could please tell me how the law stands on who has right of way when a pedestrian has begun crossing the road at a petrol station and a motorist lunges towards them at a ridiculous speed to turn onto the road. No cars were moving when I begun crossing over the exit at my local petrol station today , to get on to the path. I was pushing my young son in his buggy and had a hold of my four year old daughter's hand , when a stupid woman charged at us at breakneck speed and I had to practically throw my kids out of the way to get out of her way. After nearly ploughing through us , she took off like a bat out of hell and I went into the garage to ask for the cctv footage to be checked to see if her registration number was on camera as I wished to report it to the police. I was told that they could not divulge the details to me due to the DPA but would be more than happy to co-operate by giving the information to the police for me.

My understanding of the highway code is that if a pedestrian has begun crossing a road into which a motorist is turning into , then they must give way to the pedestrian but is this applicable to the exit of a filling station ? She wasn't turning into it , she was exiting , so who has right of way ? Do pedestrians ALWAYS have righjt of way or are there any circumstances where they do not ? Any help greatly appreciated x


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I think you'll find the motorist was in the wrong as you rightly said once a pedestrian has begun to cross the road they have right of way, regarless of the location.

Hope this helps, and if i as wrong i am sure someone will correct me!
Motoring law doesn't actually refer to many specific situations. For instance, there is no specific law which states that drivers can't drive on the right-hand-side of the road. Neither is there a law which specifically states that drivers can't tail-gate another driver on a motorway, while doing a crossword. In such situations the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts have to decide which of the various generic pieces of legislation apply. (e.g. they would have to decide whether the driver was simply driving 'without due care and attention' or whether the more serious charge of 'dangerous driving' should apply).

The Highway Code isn't law. It's not directly an offence to transgress the rules which appear in it, but a court could take breaches of the Code into account when seeking to determine whether an offence had been committed.

In terms of criminal law, you did nothing wrong. (Jay-walking isn't an offence in this country except where special rules apply, such as on motorways). There's prima facie evidence, from your account, that the motorist was gulty of at least 'driving without due care and attention', if not 'dangerous driving'.

If the driver had collided with you and your children, it's likely that a civil court would rule that well over 90% of the liability of the accident lay with the driver but it's possible that a small amount of liability might be attributed to you because of your failure to take sufficient care when crossing.

Having got all of that out of the way, I'll return to your actual question:
Because the law makes very few references to specific situations, and because the Highway Code isn't law, there's nothing in the statute books which gives either of you the right of way. However criminal law obliges the car driver to take due care and attention, while civil law expects both of you to exercise a 'duty of care' both in respect of your own safety and
. . . that of others.


(I hate it when AB does that!)
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Part 1 : Thank you both so much for your answers. They are genuinely appreciated x

Chris , I have benefitted from your full and informative answers in the past and you have not let me down again. (No disrespect to you madmondeo as I truly appreciate your input too , it's just that Chris has pinpointed the crucial points I needed to know and that deserves credit too.) The only point I wish to clarify is that I DID take care crossing the road and as I said , the cars were static at the garage. It was only when I was halfway across , that this silly woman - who had been parked at the doorway of the garage - suddenly lunged towards us at breakneck speed. I am extremely conscious of road safety and constantly educate my children about the perils of not practicing road safety , so as I am sure you can appreciate , I was naturally quite fraught to find myself in a position of peril with my young children when I had made such a big deal to them about how we cross the road safely and had waited until what I perceived to be an opportune moment to cross , only to be caught unaware by a lunatic speeding out of the forecourt.
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Part 2 : Personally I can see no reason for ever leaving at such a speed under any circumstances and I had considered letting the matter drop but the more I thought about it , all that was running through my head was how my daughter had been merrily singing away , holding my hand and giggling like any other four year old and my son had been babbling in his buggy , pointing to everything he saw. If I hadn't got my children to safety , things could have been changed forever in that one awful moment (which i'm trying not to dwell on because thankfully we are all okay) and I would like that woman to shake like jelly with a visit from the police to feel a fraction of the anguish we felt. If it stops her god forbid , ploughing through anyone else , who may not be as lucky the next time , then so much for the better. Do you think that the police would take this matter seriously enough to speak with her ?
Thanks for your reply and the kind comments.

Whether the police would act on your complaint would probably depend on where you live and who you report the matter to. (Yes, I know we all pay our council tax and we should all expect the same standard of service but I'm trying to be realistic).

If you walked into a busy London police station, and made your complaint, you'd probably either be told, "I don't think we can do much about it", or ,"Thank you for the information. We'll look into it". The first comment is probably the more honest, because it accepts that busy police officers will put your complaint near the bottom of the pile of matters to be dealt with.

However, I live in a small town of about 5,000 people where the local community constable is always looking for something to do. All it needs is one person to complain that children have been seen cycling on the pavement and he'll be visiting their homes and schools, writing articles for the town newsletter and mounting special patrols to catch the offenders. He'd just love to receive a complaint like yours; it would give him something to 'get his teeth into'!

Even major conurbations have community constables. So, irrespective of where you live, I suggest that you find out who your local community constable is. He/she might have more time to spend on looking into your complaint than the officers at your local cop shop would.

to be quite honest,i think you are totally right in what you say and feel,but you are wrong also,the entrance and exit to a petrol station are not classed as roads,they are as stated, entrance and exit to private land.therefore as chris says,i doubt very much whether the police would even bother about it.if she was coming out of a side road,it might be different.
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Hi folks , just a quick update. I spoke on the telephone with my community cop who noted the details and has filed the incident. I explained that I wouldn't be at home over the weekend (at my parents' home) and he has advised me that that is not a problem and to simply present myself at my local police station on monday to make a statement and he will investigate the matter. I am not obviously expecting any charges to be brought against this woman , nor do I wish for that to happen anyway. To reiterate what I said earlier , I just want her to shake like jelly with a visit from the police to feel a fraction of what my kids and I felt when she lunged towards us. We were lucky but god forbid , someone else may not be the next time and if a visit from the boys in blue makes her think the next time , then that's great. Thank you all for your answers , they are much appreciated x
I would blumming well want charges brought. if there is one thing I cannot stand it is bad driving. A car is a lethal weapon and in my opinion, only about 50% of people on the roads are safe to be there! But that's just me. I hope the silly blighter gets some seriously slapped wrists if not a nice fine too :)
I have a question in relation to the poor woman who was nearly run over.
The cars entering or exiting are going, coming from private land (petrol station), are we saying this is not, by definition, a road? Surely if its not a road then a pedestrian has not left the pavement? The same surely as cars using their driveways onto their property? Are we fair game for them as well.

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