A pedestrian is an individual who is walking. In the context of motor vehicle laws, it is a person who walks on a public street or highway. Each state has its own set of laws governing pedestrians, particularly when that person crosses or attempts to cross a road or street. The State of Mississippi is no exception. Its law is clear with regard to the rights of pedestrians, and the responsibilities of motorists operating a motor vehicle on the state’s public highways.
The first responsibility of a pedestrian is to only cross a street at an intersection. That seems clear enough, but many people do not walk to the intersection but rather cross in the middle of the street. That may be convenient, but a pedestrian who does this gives up their protection under the law. When discussing the rights of pedestrians, this fact must remain as a given. Pedestrians should always cross at an intersection.
Some intersections have traffic control devices installed. This is usually in the downtown area of a city. If that is the case, and the devices are working, then the law is simple. Cross when the device indicates it is safe, and do not cross when the device signals to stop. The pedestrian’s responsibility is to follow the device. Of course, if there is an automobile coming through the intersection in violation of the device, a pedestrian should stop even though they have the right of way.
Most intersections do not have traffic control devices. In those cases, the pedestrian has the right of way. This applies whether or not there is a marked crosswalk. Once the pedestrian enters the marked or unmarked crosswalk, he or she has the right of way. An oncoming motor vehicle must yield, and allow the pedestrian to cross. If necessary, the motor vehicle must come to a complete stop. Mississippi law further provides that it is unlawful to pass a stopped vehicle that is yielding to a pedestrian.
As in all circumstances, the fact that a pedestrian has the right of way does not mean that person should disregard all safety procedures. The pedestrian should always look before entering the crosswalk to make sure any approaching motor vehicle will have the time and space to yield and/or stop. A pedestrian should always be aware of the fact that having the right of way and being sensible may be two different things. A pedestrian needs to calculate the amount of time necessary to cross the road, and determine if a motor vehicle coming from either direction is close enough to cause a problem.
It is important to know Mississippi law, and to apply it in a sensible manner. The law is there to protect pedestrians, and give them the opportunity to cross a street at an intersection. Pedestrians need to appreciate that right, and to act responsibly when exercising their legal rights.
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