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July 25, 2014

Understanding Right of Way for Pedestrians

Volvo_pedestrian_detection_w_full_auto_stopRight of way for pedestrians is an important concept to understand for all drivers. Accidents involving pedestrians are most commonly caused by a motorist's failure to yield to a pedestrian. 

Fortunately, pedestrian impacts and fatalities are at a 19-year low. Lots of steps have been taken in an attempt to reduce accidents overall. Volvo has even developed a technology to keep a lookout for pedestrians and other obstructions and brake for you! Another system, developed by AutoLiv will even watch for animals and pedestrians IN THE DARK!

Increasing awareness in pedestrian traffic laws is a big step in reducing accidents. Motorists and pedestrians alike must understand who has the right of way, and adhere to these guidelines. 


Absolute Right of Way

When an injury lawyer considers a pedestrian personal injury case, the first item to consider is whether the law granted the pedestrian right of way.  In some circumstances, pedestrian right of way is non-negotiable. 

These circumstances include:

Crosswalks.  Marked crosswalks are apparent through road markings, signs or lights.  If a pedestrian steps off the curb into a marked crosswalk, the vehicle must yield to the pedestrian.

Roadways. If a pedestrian is traveling in a crosswalk and has reached the halfway point or more, the vehicle must yield at that time as well.  Pedestrians do not have to yield in the roadway while crossing and a vehicle appears.

Sidewalks.  While leaving a driveway, alleyway, or parking lot that requires a driver to cross a sidewalk, the sidewalk must be yielded to pedestrians first.  The driver may continue into the roadway once the pedestrians have cleared the sidewalk shared with the driveway.

Blind Pedestrians.  Blind pedestrians carrying a white cane or a white cane tipped in red, or traveling with the assistance of a guide dog, always have right of way even in unmarked crosswalks and roadways where other pedestrians are not allowed to cross.  This right of way does not apply if the pedestrian has no indicator of his or her blindness. 

These issues of right of way should be considered absolute.  If there are pedestrian-vehicle crashes under these circumstances, liability is most likely assigned to the driver

Volvo_pedestrian_detection_w_full_auto_stop_3When Pedestrians Must Yield

However, there are situations where the right of way rules for pedestrians are not as absolute. The following situations call for pedestrians yield right of way to drivers:

Unmarked Crosswalks/Non-Crosswalk Crossing.  If there is not a marked crosswalk or the pedestrian crosses the roadway at any point that is not an intersection, the pedestrian must yield right of way to all vehicles on the roadway. 

Pedestrian Tunnel/Overhead Crossing.  Pedestrians must also yield right of way if there is a crossing tunnel or overhead available to them but they elect to cross the roadway directly. 

Disabled Pedestrians.  Disabled pedestrians may cross somewhere other than a crosswalk if the crosswalk or lighted intersection is inaccessible.  However, they must also yield to any vehicles on the roadway.  (Blind pedestrians are the exception.)

Non-disabled pedestrians are not permitted to cross in roadways if they can cross in an unmarked or marked crosswalk in a controlled intersection.  They also cannot cross diagonally between corners unless traffic control devices or police officers instruct otherwise. 

Understanding these rules will help keep driver and pedestrian accidents low.  However, since these accidents often result in serious injuries, they require legal attention even if they are rare.  If you an injured as a pedestrian due to a motorist action, it is in your best interest to contact a car accident attorney and see if your right of way was violated.  


Gina_colemanGina Coleman is a freelance writer who enjoys the challenge of contributing unique content across the web. She writes on a variety of subjects from marketing to technology. When not in front of the computer doing research, you can find her curled up with a good book.




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