Silly Question but Who Has Right of Way in Parking Lot?

Updated on March 20, 2012
P.R. asks from Akron, OH
13 answers

Another post reminded me of this. There are crosswalks from the stores to the actual parking lots where I live. So to cross the "road" to the parking lot, I either wait until it's clear or use a crosswalk. If I'm in the crosswalk, I think cars should stop. But people just walk into the "road" from all over whenever they feel like crossing and it bugs me. I think they should wait or use a crosswalk. Typically I'm going slowly and just wave them on but there are people who don't even consider I may not stop and they certainly don't wave a thanks or hurry along. Am I wrong? Is everyone ok just crossing wherever and whenever? Just curious.

Not so much a legal question vs do people think it's ok to just step out wherever they want? I'm not sure how it's that different than just walking across a main street whenever you feel like it bc you, the pedestrian, has the legal right of way. Just seems rude to me...

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answers from Pittsburgh on

While one may be legally "correct" to step out any old time, because the cars NEED to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, (I think that's law nationwide) one also might also just get PLOWED by a driver that *thinks* he/she has the right of way!

Law is law, but we do need to exercise a little common sense, right?

I'm with you. I might have the right of way in the crosswalk, but I wait for acknowledgement from the driver(s) to proceed.

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answers from Atlanta on

Pedestrians always have the right of way. It doesn't mean I don't get pissy when I'm driving through a parking lot and someone just steps right out in front of me (I let people go, but if I'm not expecting it and suddenly you just leap out -that's pretty stupid). BUT -they still have the right of way.

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answers from Charlotte on

If I'm driving in front of a store or group of stores, I always stop for pedestrians, and I expect them to walk from their cars to where they want to go. The crosswalks usually have stop signs on them that a driver is supposed to stop at regardless of whether someone is crossing or not. It's kind of like a speed bump without the bump - there to make cars slow down.

I don't believe it's rude to cross where you want to cross when walking. If I've walked from the back of the parking lot, I'm not gonna worry about walking all the way over to the crosswalk. I'm going to cross the street as soon as I can to get OUT of the way of the cars and be safe up on the sidewalk outside of the store(s).

I certainly don't see myself as being "entitled", or any pedestrian, for doing this.


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answers from Kansas City on

pedestrians do always have the right of way. jaywalking wouldn't apply because it's private property. but yes, they're idiots for not even looking, just ASSuming you will stop for them. i have noticed attitudes like that too, the whole, "i am the center of the universe therefore i know that all traffic will stop when i decide i must cross the road."

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answers from St. Louis on

Pedestrian always has the right of way. Not a right I will argue with a car mind you. :p

What fascinates me is that people don't even bother to make eye contact with the driver. That is what I mean by a right I will not argue with a car. Unless I know the driver sees me I am not walking in front or behind a moving car. I have never been hit but just looking at people that have, it looks painful.

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answers from Williamsport on

Totally depends on where you are, and it actually does become a legal thing. Some places it is not legal to cross all willy nilly (CA) and some places it is (NY) New Yorkers are coordinated adults who watch for traffic and cross whenever they want (love it, always loved it being there the most). They hurry so they don't hold up cars. Cars yield within reason but honk if the person walking is being a jerk about parading like it's a big "event". In Los Angeles you have to act like a toddler, walk a block out of your way to where you're "allowed to cross", stand awkwardly in the beaming sunlight while the speeding traffic gawks at the spectacle of an actual "pedestrian" and "wait for the walk signal" or literally, a cop may arrest you for jaywalking. C'mon! Annoying!

Personally, I'm the type who likes to hurry across the street whenever I want if it's not impeding any cars, and when I'm driving, I yield when people are crossing and I give the "go ahead" wave. I'm not a hothead, so I don't honk even if they're being slow pokes.

SO. In the parking structure you described. I would probably defer to law if there was one. I'd stick the crosswalks and be proper if I was with my toddlers, but I'd just go across however I wanted on my own without holding up any cars if there was no big legal warning posted about jaywalking.

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answers from Boston on

If they are not in a cross walk I keep going. Obviously I don't hit them but I keep going even if they have to step back. I do the same thing when dropping my kids off at school. It is so annoying when people think they can just walk in the road whenever they want.

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answers from Portland on

I agree with Jo W. Pedestrians nearly always have the right of way but what does it matter if you're injured?

When I think about it, I don't think pedestrians have the right of way when they're jay walking when there's an ordinance outlawing jay walking. However, a parking lot is private property and there would be no jay walking ordinance.

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answers from San Francisco on

By law, they are supposed to use cross walks. Pedestrians can be cited for jay walking. However, pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way so even though there is no crosswalk, cars are supposed to stop.

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answers from Washington DC on

in Virginia it's a law. You MUST stop for pedestrians in a cross walk.

Call your police non-emergency number or go to your state government's home page or even your county's home page and look up the law for Cross Walks and Pedestrians.


answers from Houston on

If they just step out in front of a moving car, then legally they are in the wrong, and really stupid too b/c they are endangering themselves.

Pedestrians have the legal right of way, but if one chooses to jump out in the middle of the road, especially without a crosswalk where the driver never even sees them coming, or if it is dark out and such, then the driver is typically considered innocent. It's circumstantial in those cases.



answers from Las Vegas on

I don't know and never want to find out. I just stop and let the pedestrian go by.



answers from Los Angeles on

Jaywalking across a main st. is not the same thing. I just answered a different question about this being one of my pet peeves so I don't know if your referring to that, but in my case there was no cross walks in sight.
It's just a huge outdoor mall, so kind of the same as an indoor mall where people park and walk from their space to the nearest entrance.
I also didn't jump out in front of the guy. Of course I look first, i always do, and when they keep going that's when they get the death stare LOL.
But he was far enough away for us to step off the curb and start crossing. When he didn't slow down I was already in the middle of the road. I think he is the one who acted entitled by thinking pedestrians should move out of his way so he could keep speeding through. To make matters worse there were actually a line of cones there because they offer valet and it's at the main entrance of this mall.
Drivers need to know there will be people walking left and right at busy shopping center parking lots especially on a weekend. It is NOT the same as a main st. where cars are traveling 30-40 mph, that is much more dangerous.
This happens at the target parking lot where I live too. There is one huge crossing area that has painted stripes on it but that doesn't stop drivers from just driving through even though they clearly see pedestrians about to cross.
There is no cross walk at Ralph's grocery store either so it is not always possible to use a cross walk. I don't think it would make much difference to these types of drivers anyway.