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driving concerns

When we’re crossing at a crosswalk, do cars have to wait until we get to the other side? Often, drivers go through once we’re not directly in their way. I have a five-year-old and a dog, and there’s always a chance they may dawdle or change directions as we’re crossing. – Erica, Calgary

In Alberta, drivers can’t legally go until the pedestrian has reached the other side of any crosswalk.

But, in every province, it’s wise for drivers to let pedestrians finish crossing, a safety experts said.

Section 41 of Alberta’s traffic law says drivers must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, and the law says a crosswalk extends across the whole street – from the sidewalk on one side to the sidewalk on the other.

That means drivers should always wait until they get to the other side, Calgary police said.

If a driver doesn’t, they could be charged with failing to yield to a pedestrian, which comes with an $810 fine and four demerit points.

The only exception is a divided roadway with a median. Once the pedestrian reaches the median, then the driver can go.

Drivers also can’t pass a car that’s stopped for a pedestrian.

In Ontario, the rules depend on the type of crosswalk – and in some, you do have to wait. If it’s a crossover – a dedicated crosswalk that’s not at an intersection – drivers and cyclists have to stop and wait until pedestrians have finished crossing.

So, any time a pedestrian is in the crossover, traffic should be stopped in both directions.

The same rules apply when a school crossing guard is stopping traffic – neither direction can go.

If drivers go when they aren’t supposed to, they could be charged for failing to yield to a pedestrian and face fines up to $1,000 and four demerit points.

But if it’s not a crossover – if someone is crossing at an intersection, for example – drivers can go once the pedestrian is clear.

In most other provinces, drivers only have to wait until pedestrians have crossed half of the road or reached the median, if there is one.

In British Columbia, for example, the law says drivers must yield if the pedestrian is “on the half of the highway on which the vehicle is travelling, or is approaching so closely from the other half of the highway that he or she is in danger.”

Breaking that rule carries a $167 fine and three demerit points.

Even when the law doesn’t say to wait for a pedestrian to get to the other side, drivers should wait anyway, said the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

“Always err on the side of caution and wait for pedestrians to completely finish crossing the road before entering the intersection,” Kristine D’Arbelles, a CAA spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “This is to ensure the safety of pedestrians. Think of a child who drops their mitten halfway and runs back to get it.”

At any crosswalk, pedestrians should make eye contact with drivers to ensure that they see you, D’Arbelles said.

About 300 pedestrians were killed each year in Canada from 2018 to 2020, according to Statistics Canada data.

Have a driving question? Send it to and put ‘Driving Concerns’ in your subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada’s a big place, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.

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