What Are My Rights as a Pedestrian?
These days, it can be downright scary to be a bicyclist or a pedestrian. Between aggressive drivers and distracted drivers, it can feel like you’re playing chicken—when all you want to do is cross the street!
Whether you walk to school or work regularly or you just want to go out for a stroll once in a while, it’s important to understand pedestrian rights and responsibilities.
Here’s what you need to know the next time you put on your walking shoes.
Your Rights as a Pedestrian
As a pedestrian, you have just as much right to use the road as anyone else.
When there are no sidewalks, you may walk on the road, facing traffic and as far toward the shoulder (or edge or the road) as possible (unless it is a freeway).
You have the right of way in the following situations:
- When on a sidewalk
- When at a crosswalk where the traffic signals are indicating that pedestrians may walk (e.g., the signal shows a green person or “Walk” text).
- When at a crosswalk that does not have traffic signals
- When at a crosswalk where the traffic signals are not in operation
- When at a crosswalk where the traffic signals aren’t clearly indicating who has the right of way
Further, when any vehicle is stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross, the vehicle behind them may not pass the stopped vehicle.
Your Responsibilities as a Pedestrian
Of course, pedestrians also have responsibilities. They must follow traffic laws and traffic signals (as do motor vehicle drivers, motorcyclists, and bicyclists). Here are the laws that pedestrians must follow:
- When there is a sidewalk, you must use it.
- You must cross the street in a marked crosswalk if one exists.
- When there is a traffic control device at a crosswalk, you must obey the signals. (If you’ve already started walking and the signal starts flashing, this is the signal for you to finish crossing.)
- You must yield the right of way to traffic when crossing the street where there is no crosswalk.
- You must also yield the right of way to public safety vehicles (like ambulances and police cruisers) and to vehicles in a funeral procession.
- When walking on the road, you must give traffic the right of way.
- You are not allowed to walk on the freeway (unless you’ve experienced an emergency or your vehicle broke down).
- You are not allowed to solicit or hitch rides.
How to Stay Safe on the Road
It’s a sad fact that drivers are not always looking out for pedestrians. Their inattentive and even criminal behavior can have tragic consequences. Most recently, Cincinnati has seen several heartbreaking cases of hit-and-runs involving pedestrian children near bus stops.
To help you and your kids stay safe, we offer the following tips.
When Out Walking:
- If the road doesn’t have a sidewalk, walk in the opposite direction of traffic. The law requires it, and for good reason: this helps drivers see you (and you see them).
- Put down your phone as much as possible—especially in high traffic areas, parking lots, and intersections. When you’re looking down at your phone, you might miss a car coming toward you.
- At night, wear light-colored or, better yet, reflective clothing. You can also carry a flashlight.
- Avoid walking near traffic if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When Crossing the Street:
- Look both ways before crossing the street. (It’s a cliche, but it’s true!)
- Never assume that oncoming traffic will yield the right of way when you’re in the crosswalk or when you are crossing the street to catch the bus. Make sure drivers are slowing down before entering the street.
- Before crossing the street, make your intentions known. Stretch your arm out like you’re hailing a taxi and make eye contact with the driver. (This helps ensure they understand you’re about to cross.)
- After you start crossing the street at an intersection, look over your shoulder for drivers who might be turning right without looking.
Injured? Contact Us Today
It’s possible to do everything right and still be injured by a careless driver. If you or a loved one are injured in a pedestrian-car accident, make sure to seek medical attention immediately. Then, document the accident, including all people involved and how it happened, as you remember it.
It’s also often a good idea to contact an attorney to talk about your options. You may consider filing a personal injury claim to help you pay for any medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses resulting from your injuries.
If you want to file a claim, we’re here to help you. Call us today to schedule your free consultation with our firm’s experienced and dedicated personal injury attorneys.