For Motorists

Motorist Rules around Pedestrians

Motorists must always DRIVE CAREFULLY to avoid hitting pedestrians. Regardless of whether you have the right-of-way or not, “every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian on any roadway, shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person on a roadway.” [Rule 28.1716] This applies to pedestrians in the roadway but not in a crosswalk.

Drivers also must stop immediately within 10 feet of a visually-impaired person using either a white cane or guide dog. [Rule 28.1715]

Driving carefully includes being alert to the road environment, anticipating pedestrians, and DRIVING AT A SAFE SPEED for the given conditions at or below the speed limit. Steam exhaust is a special condition that can hide pedestrians and bicyclists in the roadway and calls for proceeding slowly and cautiously.

FOLLOWING THE LAWS AT CROSSWALKS AND DRIVEWAYS can significantly reduce pedestrian crashes.

  • When stopping at intersections, motorists must come to a complete stop before entering the crosswalk. The law requires drivers to take additional precaution when pedestrians are using walking aids to cross.
  • When turning left or right, motorists must yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalks [MCL 257.612].
  • Motorists must not block crosswalks at intersections [Rule 28.1438] nor park within 20 feet of a crosswalk [MCL 257.674].
  • Similarly, motorists must fully stop before crossing a sidewalk when exiting a driveway or alley [MCL 257.652].
  • For mid-block crosswalks, motorists must yield to pedestrians on their half of the roadway or to those that may soon be on their half. [Rule 28.1701]

Some crossings use pedestrian-activated signals. Motorists must stop on solid red and may proceed if the solid red begins flashing and if clear.

Motorist Rules around Bike Lanes and Bicyclists

Bicyclists have legal access to all roadways except freeways. They are not required to ride on sidewalks, on adjacent pathways, or even in bike lanes. This has been true for the 150 years bicyclists have been in Detroit.

Detroit has added many miles of bicycle lanes. Driving or parking in bike lanes is prohibited [Rule 28.1322].

WHEN TURNING RIGHT and there is a bike lane marked with solid white lines, motorists must turn from the right vehicle lane, not the bike lane. If the bike lane is marked with dashed white lines, motorists should turn from the curb. In both situations, motorists should look for bicyclists on their right side and yield before turning. Turn signals are required [MCL 257.648].

What does the green paint on the road signify? It’s to alert both motorists and bicyclists about potential conflict areas. It’s typically used at or near intersections.

WHEN PASSING BICYCLISTS, state law requires motorists to give a three-foot buffer when practical. If not, motorist should pass at a safe distance and safe speed [MCL 257.637]. This should be considered the minimum. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends passing bicyclists with five feet of space though it’s better still to change lanes when possible. BEFORE OPENING YOUR DOOR, look for bicyclists. Impeding bicycle traffic is prohibited [Rule 28.1498.] Opening vehicle doors with the opposite hand (e.g. driver’s side door with the right hand) does encourage you to turn and look for conflicts. It’s called the Dutch Reach and it’s a good habit.

Other Law Pages