Walk This Way to Learn the Pedestrian Right of Way Laws
A pedestrian is killed every hour and 36 minutes in a car accident.
To keep yourself safe at busy intersections, you need to make sure you know the correct pedestrian right of way laws.
If you aren’t as familiar with these laws as you should be, take a look at this quick crosswalk guide.
Do Pedestrians Always Get the Right of Way at Crosswalks?
Your first thought is probably “yes,” and you are technically right. But the actual laws may be different than you think.
As it turns out, there are a bunch of different crossing laws. Each state’s laws differ slightly from every other state. Some states only require cars to yield to pedestrain right of way if the pedestrian is close enough to them in the street.
For example, cars in Massachusetts are only required to yield to a pedestrian if the pedestrian is 10 feet away from the vehicle.
In Louisiana, a driver doesn’t have to stop driving unless the person crossing the road is on the same side of the road as them.
Only 28 out of 50 states are required to stop if a pedestrian is on any portion of the road.
That’s why, regardless of if you have the right of way or not, you should always make sure drivers see you before stepping into the street.
Is There a Right or Wrong Way to Use a Crosswalk?
This may seem pretty obvious, but don’t step into the street unless the traffic signal says “walk.”
Even if it doesn’t look like any cars are passing, there may be a left turn light on that could conflict with your path. If you’re worried about the amount of time you have to cross the road, sometimes pressing the cross buttons give you more time.
If you think certain cars haven’t noticed you, hold up your arm to signal them before you cross the street. This will let them know you are planning to walk.
Is It Illegal to Cross the Street Outside of a Crosswalk?
Believe it or not, in most places, it is completely legal to cross the street outside of a sidewalk. However, this is very dangerous and should always be avoided if possible.
It is only illegal to cross the street outside a crosswalk if the nearest intersections on both sides of you are controlled intersections (meaning they have traffic lights).
If you need to cross the street outside of a crosswalk, give the right of way to motorists. They may not be expecting a person to cross, and it may be harder for them to see you.
Be Safe First
Whether you have the pedestrian right of way or not, you should always make safety your top priority.
Don’t walk near streets while you’re distracted. This may mean putting away your phone until you are in a safe location so you don’t accidentally step into the street at the wrong time while you’re looking down at your phone.
Now, if a car hits you when you are in a place that requires cars to stop when you are on the road, like L.A., get in touch with a Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney. They will help you sort through the legal side of the accident.
In a place without sidewalks? Walk facing traffic. This makes it easier for you to see an approaching car and step off the road as they drive by.
Make sure you wear proper reflective clothing when you’re walking after dark.
Be Careful with Your Pedestrian Right of Way
You should always cross the street at a crosswalk. It’s not worth endangering yourself and others by crossing the street in unsafe locations.
Do a lot of walking by busy roads? Check out some of our other important car accident tips.