Crosswalk Accidents, Who Had The Right Of Way?
- Wednesday, 25 February 2015 15:42
Generally, motorists must yield to pedestrian traffic. This is especially true when a pedestrian is within a crosswalk. The public policy behind this is that motorists are in better positions to prevent serious injuries. Additionally, a motorist has the principal responsibility to drive safely and maintain control over their vehicles at all times.
Each state has a statute pertaining to pedestrian traffic
, and while most of those statutes speak to crosswalks, the concept of right of way is not always clear. Oftentimes, there are several factors that interplay.
There are clear-cut instances where either a pedestrian or motorist has the right of way, such as a crosswalk with a traffic light. If a crosswalk has a traffic light, both pedestrians and motorists have a duty to obey the traffic control devices. Pedestrians must stop at red lights and proceed only when signaled by green lights. If there is a stop sign, motorists should yield to pedestrians as they would other vehicle traffic. A crosswalk with traffic lights or stop signs will often define which party has the right of way, in the same way regular vehicle street traffic is governed by traffic control devices.
A crosswalk without a traffic light or stop sign will likely be marked. In this case, some states get specific, but the overarching theme is that motorists should proceed cautiously to prevent pedestrian injury. Basically, if a pedestrian is actually in a crosswalk, the motorist should stop and the pedestrian has the right of way. Other traffic should stop as well. However, the pedestrian needs to exercise caution too, and should stay on a curb or a safe area until it is reasonably safe to proceed into an intersection. Simply put, a pedestrian who abruptly steps off of a curb into an oncoming vehicle’s path, likely does not have the right of way.
In most states, it does not matter whether a crosswalk is marked or unmarked, so long as the crosswalk is a logical extension of foot-traffic. In other words, if a reasonable motorist should anticipate an intersection area serves as an egress for pedestrians to cross to the other side of a roadway, this will constitute a crosswalk and both pedestrians and motorists should exercise the same care.
Right of way requires an analysis of the surrounding circumstance when the injury occurred, so speak to an attorney
familiar with traffic and personal injury laws.