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Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

person walking across crosswalk

Everyone knows that pedestrians have the right of way, right? Well, not exactly. While it is true that pedestrians generally have the right of way, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Understanding when pedestrians do and do not have the right of way can help you avoid accidents—and potential legal trouble.

Understanding Pedestrian Traffic Laws

According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), pedestrian accidents totaled approximately 8,117, with 715 fatalities in 2020. While it may seem that the general consensus is that pedestrians are free to roam wherever they please, it couldn’t be further from the truth. And that’s for their own safety!

Where are Pedestrians Allowed?

When a pedestrian crosses an intersection or travels outside via means meant for pedestrians, they are helping to create a safer environment for everybody on the road. Areas commonly used for pedestrians include (with corresponding Florida law):

  • Sidewalks where applicable
    • 316.130 (3) – “Where sidewalks are provided, no pedestrian shall, unless required by other circumstances, walk along and upon the portion of a roadway paved for vehicular traffic.”
  • When there are no sidewalks, pedestrians may walk on the shoulder or left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
    • 316.130 (4) – “Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the shoulder on the left side of the roadway in relation to the pedestrian’s direction of travel, facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction.”
  • Crosswalks
    • 316.130 (7a) – “The driver of a vehicle at an intersection that has a traffic control signal in place shall stop before entering the crosswalk and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian, with a permitted signal, to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.”

When Pedestrians Do Not Have the Right of Way

While pedestrians have sidewalks and crosswalks at their disposal, it sometimes seems like a case of “rules are meant to be broken” with how often you see them not utilizing them. Pedestrians give up their right of way when they are caught:

  • Crossing the road at any point other than inside a crosswalk.
    • 316.130 (10) – “Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.”
  • Suddenly darting out into the road.
    • 316.130 (8) – “No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.”

Drivers Must Still Exercise Extreme Caution

Despite these caveats, drivers are still expected to exercise extreme caution when a pedestrian is present (316.130 (15)). Drivers must always be on the lookout for pedestrians and yield the right of way appropriately. If a driver fails to do so, they may be held liable in an accident. So when it comes to giving pedestrians the right of way, be sure to err on the side of caution. But it’s also about keeping yourself, and everyone else safe!

How Idrizi Law Group Can Help

At Idrizi Law Group, we are knowledgeable in personal injury and premises liability laws, and can provide you with legal advice regarding what your rights may be in the event of a pedestrian-related accident. We understand the complicated legal process that follows such cases and will discuss any potential course of action to get you the recovery that you deserve.

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, call us today at (727) 202-5499 or fill out our form online!