Pedestrian Rights And Duties

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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Pedestrians and motorists interact on a daily basis throughout state roads and highways. In order to ensure safety, all states have enacted laws that regulate the rights and duties of both pedestrians and motorists. In a pedestrian vehicle accident, the rights and duties of a pedestrian will usually be a determining factor in whether a pedestrian was contributorily negligent and can recover on a personal injury claim. 

Who Is A "Pedestrian" Within Traffic Rules and Regulations?

Typically, a pedestrian has been classified as "any person afoot." This definition has been, at times, both too broad and too restrictive and Courts have dealt with cases to better define the term. 

Specifically, Courts have generally considered persons pushing or pulling a handcart or persons on rollerskates, coasters, or scooters to be a pedestrian. In contrast, some Courts have held that persons engaged in conduct other than "foot traffic" not to be considered pedestrians. Thus, in some states roadside workers and individuals attending to a disabled vehicle are not pedestrians.

What Are The Rights And Duties Of Pedestrians?

Rights and duties of pedestrians will be different in each locale depending upon state statute or local ordinance. Therefore, it is first important to consult your local laws to determine your rights and duties as a pedestrian. The following, however, represents a general overview of the rights and duties of pedestrians.

In general, unless otherwise specified, a pedestrian has the right to travel anywhere upon the public roads and highways. Most restrictions will be placed on the conduct of a pedestrian in crossing, walking along, or using public ways.

Crossing Streets and Highways

Unless stated in statutes, ordinances or printed roadsigns, a pedestrian may cross either directly or diagonally at any point in the road. Crossing at points not designated, however, may require the pedestrian to yield to motorists. Note that many laws have restricted crossing to crosswalks and only at right angles.

Walking Along Highways

Unless stated in statutes, ordinances or printed roadsigns, a pedestrian may travel along a highway or street and may not be restricted to sidewalks and crossings at intersections. Most jurisdictions, however, will have laws in place that restrict pedestrians to sidewalks and require pedestrians to walk on the extreme left side of the road facing traffic. 

How Do I Know My Pedestrian Rights And Duties?

If you don't already know your pedestrian rights and duties, then the best source for information is your state laws or local ordinances. If looking up your local laws is a bit inconvenient, then being aware of roadsigns and traffic and using a little common sense will take you a long way.

I Was Involved In A Pedestrian Vehicle Accident, Do I Need An Attorney?

In order to recover for your personal injuries you will probably need an personal injury attorney. An attorney will also be able to inform you if you were contributorily negligent by failing to follow your pedestrian rights and duties. 

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Last Modified: 06-16-2014 10:39 AM PDT

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