My first experience with the law came when I was about five years old. My mother and I were driving through our neighborhood when the moment came. As we approached a four-way intersection, I noticed a neighborhood resident, who happened to be of Asian descent (relevance in a sec), standing at the corner. My mother stopped at the intersection and allowed the woman to cross the street. The following conversation ensued. Five year-old Me, “why did you let that lady go in front of us?” My mother, “because pedestrians have the right-of-way.” Me, “how did you know her name?”
I’ve heard that story many times over the years, and my mother always points out the humor in five year-old Me thinking “pedestrian” was the name of a foreign woman (for those who don’t know what a pedestrian is, see the explanation here).
These days I often wonder whether my mother was the only parent to teach me this great rule of law, the right-of-way rule. By foot, I live about 8 minutes from the Square. I love this great city of Oxford, with its trees, sidewalks and friendly fellow walkers, so I often find myself on foot. I regularly walk to court, and I aspire to walk to my new office on the north side of the Square at least three days a week. But walking around here can be just a little bit scary. Especially on campus. BIG cars. Young drivers. What follows is a friendly public service announcement directed at those without a mother like mine.
The State of Mississippi provides the following pertinent rules regarding pedestrians and vehicles:
Where traffic control signals are not in place or in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection…
Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.
Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 63-3-1103. And,
Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 63-3-1105(1). So, to interpret – at an intersection, the pedestrian has the right-of-way, crosswalk or not. If there is a crosswalk not at an intersection, the pedestrian has the right-of-way. But, if there isn’t an intersection or a crosswalk, the vehicle has the right-of-way. Pedestrians and vehicles should follow the signal at a stop-light. Clear?
The University of Mississippi has its own Traffic Rules and Regulations, found here. We all know the Rules include a speed limit of 18 miles-per-hour. Also included is Rule A.3(g) which states “[p]edestrians in crosswalks shall be given the right-of-way at all times. Penalty: $50.”
Hopefully next time you see me headed to Uptown Coffee, the Courthouse or the Grove, you’ll do like my mother did with “Pedestrian.”