Thoughtful driver asks Star Tribune if he can 'legally' hit a jaywalker

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Can "Irving" from Minneapolis hit these women? Oh, c'mon! What if it's raining? Leila Navidi, Star Tribune

Meet "Irving."

Irving, a resident of Minneapolis or somewhere near it, was recently driving in the city and had an annoying and all-too-common experience. Some rude pedestrian stepped out into the street right in front of our new friend Irving.

And this guy wasn't just walking. He was walking slowly. 

Irving pulled his car to a complete stop, and, while waiting there, had himself a think. He wondered.

What if next time I just keep driving and kill this motherfucker? Would that be OK?

Oh boy, Irving, we are so glad you asked! Experts on this very topic are standing by to give you an answer... if you could -- can you just put the car in park for a second, Irv?

Irving took his question to the Star Tribune's "The Drive" column, a repository of the clashes between the rights, needs, wants, and whines of motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Here's how he described the situation:

“The other afternoon I was driving on 4th Street between 3rd and 4th avenues when a man walked out into the street and ambled across the street, meaning he walked slowly and deliberately, forcing me to stop in the middle of the block so I wouldn’t hit him. My question is, can I legally hit him since he is breaking the law by jaywalking and forcing me to come to a stop in the middle of a block, not only endangering me but anyone behind me who also is forced to stop?”

Basically, Irving is saying: By walking in the street, this man is putting me in potential danger. (Though only if the driver behind Irving sees neither the pedestrian nor Irving's brake lights.) Doesn't that give Irving the right to put the pedestrian in definite danger -- or the morgue -- by hitting him?

The Star Tribune dutifully checked with Minneapolis Police on this, and confirmed that, "as frustrating as that might be," Irving has to let the slow man live. Indeed, "jaywalking" as a term doesn't show up in state or city law. The state says pedestrians crossing not at the crosswalk should yield to cars, and the city does consider it a violation if you "interfere" with traffic.

City Pages welcomes this kind of back-and-forth reader engagement, and this question actually raises a few more we'd like answered: What time of day do you usually drive, Irving? And where? What kind of car do you drive?

Do you have an attorney, Irving? Did it appear to you that the woman was still breathing when you left the scene?


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