At A Crossroads

The four-way stop at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Liberty Street in downtown Warren has drawn the ire of motorists and pedestrians alike.

Drivers don’t like the congestion that can result, and pedestrians have expressed concern about getting hit.

But how is it actually supposed to work?

Reading from the vehicle code, City of Warren Police Sgt. Brandon Deppen said on Wednesday, “When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right of way to the vehicle on the right.”

So, for example, if you’re driving south on Liberty Street and a vehicle traveling east on Pennsylvania Avenue stops at the intersection at the same time, by law, you have the right of way.

Stop sign rules also help clarify the situation.

“Every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line” or cross walk line, the code states. If no line exists, a vehicle is to stop “at a point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a clear view of the intersecting roadway before entering.”

Deppen explained that if a motorist still does not have a clear view after stopping, according to the code, “The driver shall, after yielding the right of way to any pedestrians in the crosswalk, slowly pull forward from the stopped position to a point where the driver has a clear view of approaching traffic.”

But just because vehicles have to yield to pedestrians, it doesn’t mean pedestrians don’t have responsibilities. The code says, “No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute a hazard.”

The meaning? It’s possible for a pedestrian to get hit in a crosswalk and still be at fault.

“If they run out in front of someone who stopped, they (pedestrians) can be at fault,” Deppen said. “They still have to exercise care as a pedestrian.”

Deppen said the police department has not had any reportable accidents at the intersection involving vehicles or pedestrians. “We have had complaints of near misses from people,” he added.