Stepping With Caution: Right of Way and Liability of Pedestrian Traffic Collisions

While many of us choose different forms of transportation to get to work, social functions, and across the country, there is one mode of transportation that is more common than the rest—walking.

It doesn’t matter if you walk ten miles a day or ten feet, the majority of the world’s population knows what it’s like to be a pedestrian. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to affect how pedestrians are treated on the roads. According to the Center for Disease Control’s latest data, approximately 5,000 pedestrians are killed and over 75,000 are injured each year in traffic accidents, many of which could have been avoided.

Who’s to Blame?

There are many schools of thought on exactly who is responsible for protecting pedestrians. On one hand, pedestrians have the right to feel safe when following traffic rules, even though they are much more vulnerable to accident injuries. On the other hand, cars are not able to maneuver quickly enough to react to a pedestrian who is walking against traffic rules. Some believe that pedestrians always have the right of way, while others know this isn’t the case.

So who’s right?…Both. And neither.

Protecting Pedestrians Is a Two-Way Street

Pedestrians and motorists alike share the responsibility to prevent accidents. Pedestrians are responsible for walking on designated safe areas (sidewalks, crosswalks, etc.) and keeping an eye out for traffic. Drivers are responsible to actively pay attention and adjust speeds accordingly when pedestrians are near. Both pedestrians and vehicle operators are encouraged to limit distractions and above all else, to pay attention to the road ahead.

Useful safety tips to remember include:

  • Ditch the distractions. Whether you’re driving or walking, texting prevents you from adequately seeing the world (and dangers) around you. Put the phone away and stop relying on others to see you.
  • Approach crosswalks with care. As a driver, it can often be difficult to quickly assess what is happening inside a crosswalk. As a pedestrian, it can be easy to see a “Walk” signal and walk straight into the path of traffic that may not have seen you. No matter what the light says, always look both ways and make sure the crossing is clear before you go.
  • Be predictable. Follow the rules and avoid any unnecessary surprises. If the light is blinking to warn you to stop—Stop. Don’t slow down and then decide that maybe you can make it. Don’t signal to someone that they can go, and then start moving yourself. Do yourself a favor and be as predictable as you want others to be.
  • Establish eye contact. Before crossing a street, make sure to make eye contact with drivers or pedestrians in order to ensure that they see you.
  • Make yourself visible—especially at night. As a pedestrian, ensure that drivers can see you through movement or by wearing bright clothing. As a driver, make sure that your headlights are on.
  • Teach your children safety. Take your child for walks to show him the good pedestrian habits and safety skills that he needs.
  • Learn. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety website, Everyone Is a Pedestrian, for useful tips and safety information.

Standing Up for Pedestrian Victims

Although pedestrians may not always have the right of way, they do always have the fundamental right to protection. If you are committed to pursuing the financial compensation you and your family need to cover the costs of a pedestrian, you would be wise to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer.

In addition to filing the correct paperwork, preparing for trial, and successfully demonstrating liability to a jury, you’ll also need to establish a reasonable amount of compensation that you believe your injuries deserve. That’s a lot to accomplish on your own, especially when going through your own personal trial of recovery. However, we can provide you with the expert support, guidance, and counsel you need to successfully traverse each step of your lawsuit. Call today for a free consultation and see how you can confidently take back control of your future.

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