353 References to pedestrians crossing a road
(1) If a driver who is turning from a road at an intersection is required to give way to a pedestrian who is crossing the road that the driver is entering, the driver is only required to give way to the pedestrian if the pedestrian’s line of travel in crossing the road is essentially perpendicular to the edges of the road the driver is entering—the driver is not required to give way to a pedestrian who is crossing the road the driver is leaving.
In the slightly less-legalistic The Road Rules put out by the government:
- You must share the road with pedestrians. Special markings on the road show where pedestrians have special rights.
- You must give way to pedestrians crossing the road into which you are turning.
- You must also give way to pedestrians – even if there is no marked pedestrian crossing – if there is any danger of colliding with them.
What this means is that I as a pedestrian am allowed to enter the unmarked crosswalk to cross the street, but so long as the intersection is unmarked, the driver need not stop for me except to avoid hitting me. In other words, it’s a race to the conflict spot. If he gets there first, I am out-of-luck. If I get there first, he better have stopped, or he will get demerits (and I am out-of-luck). So if I were to run across the street, the driver would have been obligated to stop, but because I merely walked, he was not.
Now US road safety policy is a mess, and I am hardly one who will say that it should be imported wholesale to the antipodes. But this rule is bonkers. Drivers should stop for pedestrians already in the crosswalk, whether or not they might get to the conflict spot first. They should also stop for pedestrians about to enter the crosswalk from the footpath, although that is admittedly more ambiguous.
Compare with the US, where there are campaigns saying “Every corner is a crosswalk“. Even unmarked ones. For instance, Minnesota law says:
Motorists must treat every corner and intersection as a crosswalk, whether it’s marked or unmarked, and drivers must stop for crossing pedestrians.
Pedestrians must obey traffic control devices, and when no traffic control device is present, motorists must stop for crossing pedestrians within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk.
I understand the reason for lack of marked crosswalks must be lack of paint, because there is no engineering justification to endanger vulnerable road users as is done in NSW.