Legal Memorandum: Pedestrian Right of Way in MN

Issue: What are the general laws regarding pedestrian right of way with respect to a passing vehicle in Minnesota?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Pedestrian right of way; Crosswalk
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 243 N.W.2d 328
Cited Statutes: Minn. Stat. § 169.21; Minn. Stat. § 169.21, subd. 1; Minn. Stat. § 169.21, subd. 2; Minn. Stat. § 169.21, subd. 3
Date: 11/01/2012

The general rules of pedestrian rights-of-way are included in Minn. Stat. § 169.21.  Several provisions are particularly important depending on the facts established at trial.  First, if a crosswalk is controlled by a traffic signal, the pedestrian and motorist are each obligated to abide by the traffic signal.  Minn. Stat. § 169.21, subd. 1.  A pedestrian is negligent for crossing against a light, even in a marked crosswalk.  Second, if a marked crosswalk is not controlled by a traffic signal, “the driver of a vehicle shall stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway.”  Id. § 169.21, subd. 2.  However, “no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.”  Id.; Glaesman v. Mercer, 243 N.W.2d 328 (Minn. 1976). 

If a pedestrian crosses the road outside a marked crosswalk, the pedestrian “shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.”  Id. § 169.21, subd. 3.  However, even if a motorist has the right of way, he/she must still exercise ordinary care to avoid causing injury to a pedestrian in the road.  Bachand v. State Farm Auto. Ins. Co., No. A04-939, 2005 Minn. App. LEXIS 234 (Minn. Ct. App. Mar. 8, 2005) (unpublished); Kachman v. Blosberg, 81 N.W.2d 687, 695 (Minn. 1958).


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