Many people assume that because pedestrians are the road’s most vulnerable users, they do not have any responsibilities in terms of safety or roadway rules. While pedestrians are at the greatest risk of injury in accidents, they still have traffic laws they must obey. Nebraska has state and municipal laws outlining pedestrian responsibilities when navigating the streets and sidewalks. Before you decide to walk or jog around Nebraska, learn your duties to help prevent an accident.
Know the Rights-of-Way
Pedestrians do not automatically bear the right-of-way. Like other roadway users, they must yield the right-of-way when appropriate. Even when the road has a crosswalk, pedestrians do not always have the right to cross. Many pedestrian accidents occur when the person walking or jogging mistakenly believes he or she has the right-of-way and steps out into traffic. Similarly, many drivers struggle with understanding rights-of-way and may try to turn left or right into crossing pedestrians. Learn Nebraska’s right-of-way laws to keep yourself and others safe.
- At signalized crosswalks and intersections. If the intersection has a pedestrian traffic control device, you may only proceed into the crosswalk when the WALK or pedestrian icon appears. Do not start crossing if you see a flashing red hand or a DON’T WALK signal.
- At crosswalks and intersections without signals. Without a traffic control device, you have the right of way to cross. However, you may not step out in front of a vehicle if it does not have enough time to stop. You must give oncoming vehicles the right of way if they are approaching fast enough to constitute a hazard.
- At places other than intersections. Try to only cross the street at intersections. You do not have the right-of-way when crossing anywhere other than a crosswalk or intersection (jaywalking). You must stay on the curb and wait until the road is clear to cross.
The safest place to cross the street is at a corner. Marked and unmarked intersections are safer than crossing midblock. When in doubt, stand safely on the curb until oncoming vehicles pass or come to complete stops. Make eye contact with drivers, if you can, to make sure they see you. Do not step out from behind a parked vehicle, hedge, sign or another obstacle, as oncoming drivers may not see you. Always watch for pedestrians and crosswalks signals and obey them when in use. When crossing a street with multiple lanes, make sure the cars have stopped in each lane before proceeding.
It is also a pedestrian’s duty to pay attention to the road or sidewalk. Just as a driver must watch the road when driving, a pedestrian has a responsibility to watch where he or she is going. As a pedestrian, you should always look at traffic signs and signals, be aware of your surroundings, watch for cars, and pay attention to where you are walking. Do not listen to headphones, talk on the phone or look down at your cellphone as you walk. Listen to the sounds of approaching vehicles. Do not assume it is safe to cross just because the person next to you steps out into the road. Never try to walk home after drinking alcohol. Pedestrian intoxication is a leading cause of accidents. Trust a sober friend to drive you home, take the bus, or hail a cab or Uber vehicle.
It is generally against the law for a pedestrian to walk in the street if a sidewalk or pedestrian passageway is available. It is also unsafe. Always use a sidewalk if one is available. Walk in the direction opposing traffic, so you are facing oncoming vehicles. This can give you time to react and move out of the way if you see a vehicle about to strike you. If you have to walk in the street, stay as far to the right-hand side of the road as possible. Get to a street that has a sidewalk as soon as you can.
If you’ve been involved in an accident as a pedestrian, contact the Omaha pedestrian accident lawyer at Knowles Law Firm today.
Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in Nebraska, but it can also be highly dangerous. Not all drivers respect bicyclists’ rights to the road. Many people drive distracted, drowsy, drunk or otherwise unable to safely control a vehicle. Unsafe drivers can lead to catastrophic and fatal collisions with bicyclists. In 2018, Nebraska recorded 238 bicyclist accidents, with dozens of injuries and no deaths. The right hook is one of the most common accidents impacting cyclists in Omaha.
How a Right Hook Can Happen
A right hook accident refers to a motorist striking a bicyclist headed in the same direction by turning right into the bicyclist. The most common circumstance leading to a right hook accident is a motor vehicle driver passing a bicyclist going in the same direction and then making a right turn. This can cause the vehicle to collide with the biker or the bicyclist to crash into the side of the car. Drivers may misjudge the speed of a bicyclist or the distance between the two vehicles. As the vehicle slows to make the turn, however, the bicyclist often has a chance to catch up so the two are at the intersection at the same time. Distracted drivers may not notice they passed a bicyclist at all.
- A vehicle turns right directly into a bicyclist, colliding head-on with the biker.
- A vehicle turns right in front of a bicyclist, causing the biker to collide with the side of the vehicle.
- The bicyclist passes a slow vehicle on the right, then the car turns right into the biker.
- Both vehicles are waiting at a red light. When the light changes, the motorist turns right into the bicyclist.
A right hook accident can seriously injure or even kill a bicyclist. A vehicle colliding with a bicycle can mean injuries for the bicyclist such as skull fractures, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, back injuries, road rash, cuts and scrapes, and internal organ damage. An injured biker may need weeks or months to recover or could suffer permanent disabilities, on top of medical expenses and bicycle replacement. A right hook accident could easily be fatal for the biker depending on the nature of the collision.
How to Avoid a Right Hook Accident
Both parties often have the power to prevent a right hook accident. A driver should drive prudently around bicyclists and always keep his or her eyes on the road, scanning for bicyclists on all sides of the vehicle. If the motorist is driving to the left of a bicycle riding in the road or a bike lane, the motorist should wait for the bicyclist to safely pass or come to a stop before making a righthand turn. A driver should always use a turn signal in advance, scan the road behind and to the right of the vehicle, and make sure it is clear to turn before making the maneuver. As a general rule, motorists should avoid passing bicyclists at all before turning.
Bicyclists can also help prevent right hook accidents. A biker can ride in the center of the road (when no bike lane is available) to make it more difficult for a vehicle to pass right before making a turn. Bicyclists should not pass vehicles on the right, but instead slow down behind a vehicle that slows down in anticipation of a turn, even if the motorist does not have a turn signal on. If the vehicle does not turn or speed up, the biker should pass it to its left, not its right. A bicyclist can pass to the right, cautiously, only if the vehicle has stopped, and only while watching for opening car doors. Bikers should try to ride behind other vehicles, not in their blind spots to the left or right of the car. A bicyclist should leave room to brake in case the car turns right.
If you’ve been injured in a right hook accident, contact the Omaha pedestrian accident attorney at Knowles Law Firm today!
Certain facilities decline with age. An elderly person’s vision, hearing, strength, reflexes and reaction time may not be what they once were. These are all important qualities in a driver, making it important for state laws to stay on top of aging drivers. Like most states, Nebraska has special driving laws reserved for senior citizens. These laws aim to improve roadway safety and enable senior citizens to drive as long as possible.
Drivers 72 and Older Must Renew in Person
Every driver, regardless of age, must renew his or her driver’s license every five years in Nebraska. Once a driver reaches the age of 72, he or she must renew a driver’s license in person. Renewing online or by mail is no longer an option. During the in-person visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the elderly driver must also pass a vision test. The senior can choose to undergo a free vision test from a DMV employee or bring in a Statement of Vision from an outside ophthalmologist or optometrist. The Statement of Vision must have a date that is within 90 days of the DMV visit.
It is up to DMV personnel whether to require someone over 72 to also take a written and/or road driving test for driver’s license renewal. A staff member may require additional tests if the driver reports any medical problems or new health conditions, or if the driver was recently involved in a traffic accident. The DMV also accepts requests from the elderly driver’s family members to investigate the individual. A safe driver investigation looks into the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle in light of safety concerns.
Restricted Driving Privileges for the Elderly
In some cases, the DMV may restrict an elderly driver’s license or limit his or her driving privileges. This may be necessary if a driving road test shows the person has issues with certain situations, such as driving at night. The most common type of senior citizen license restriction is requiring the driver to wear prescription glasses or contact lenses. A decline in eyesight is a frequent reason for the DMV to restrict the elderly person’s driver’s license.
In Nebraska, the DMV also has the power to order an elderly driver to take certain precautions before driving. For example, the individual may need to install mechanical aids on the vehicle or add mirrors for enhanced visibility. The DMV could order a driver to stay off the interstate, only drive during the day, drive an automatic vehicle, use automatic turn signals, drive below a certain speed or take other actions to improve roadway safety. The DMV has jurisdiction over what it requires an elderly driver to do before allowing him or her back on the road.
An elderly person may qualify for a disability placard if he or she cannot travel more than 200 feet unassisted due to visual or physical impairment. A driver may also qualify if he or she suffers from respiratory issues that impact mobility, cardiac conditions or a disability affecting one or more limbs. The driver will need to fill out an application for a handicapped license plate and/or parking placard at the DMV. The driver will also need a doctor’s signature on the medical portion of the form.
How To Improve Senior Driving Safety
If you have a senior citizen in your family with declining driving abilities, take time to educate him or her on driving safety. Broach the subject by expressing your concern for his or her safety. Tell your loved one to follow all restrictions the DMV placed on his or her driving abilities. Help your loved one keep up with doctor’s appointments. Regular exercise, vision exams, and checkups can help an elderly person drive safer, longer and avoid car accidents.
If you worry your loved one poses a risk to him/herself or others on the road, mail in a Citizen Examination Report to the Nebraska Driver Licensing Division. You may request to keep your report confidential if desired.
Walking around Omaha could come with significant risks. A negligent or distracted driver could hit you while you are crossing the street or even on the sidewalk. If a vehicle strikes you, you could suffer life-changing personal injuries. You may have grounds for a civil liability lawsuit against the at-fault driver with the help of an Omaha pedestrian accidents attorney.
Pedestrian Rights in Nebraska
In 2018, 24 pedestrians died in Nebraska – the highest death toll in 10 years. An additional 357 pedestrians suffered injuries in traffic accidents. Pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way in Nebraska. Every roadway user – including bicyclists and pedestrians – must exercise reasonable care when crossing the street and interacting with others on the road. Yet in many cases, especially at crosswalks, it is the driver that infringes upon the pedestrian’s rights. Impatient, aggressive, reckless and negligent drivers may ignore pedestrian rights and cause serious accidents.
- Pedestrians have the right-of-way at crosswalks
- Turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians
- Pedestrians and drivers must obey traffic signals
- Pedestrians should not cross midblock unless it is safe to do so
- Drivers should yield to jaywalkers
- A driver cannot drive around a car that has parked to allow pedestrians to pass
- Drivers should never speed in school zones or residential areas
The main duty of care a pedestrian has to prevent accidents is not to step off a curb when it is unsafe to do so. Walking in front of an oncoming vehicle that does not have enough distance to reasonably come to a stop could point to the pedestrian’s fault for a collision. Distracted walking has contributed to the number of pedestrian accidents and deaths in Nebraska over the years. As a pedestrian, do your part to protect yourself by paying attention to where you walk.
Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries
A vehicle-pedestrian collision can cause catastrophic injuries. If a vehicle strikes you, you could end up with expensive and painful damages. With no protection from the forces exerted in a crash, you may suffer life-altering injuries. The nature of a pedestrian collision tends to cause some injuries more often than others.
- Head, neck and chest injuries
- Brain injuries
- Facial injuries
- Lower extremity injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal organ trauma
The type of injury will depend on how the vehicle struck you. If you rolled over the hood and collided with the windshield, for example, you may have suffered a head injury or lacerations. If the car collided with your legs, on the other hand, you may have fractured your tibia. Any type of injury may be severe due to the force of the impact from the vehicle.
What To Do Next
If a vehicle struck you while walking on the street or in a parking lot in Omaha, you have rights. First, take care of your physical health by calling an ambulance or getting a ride to the hospital. Remain at the scene and call 911 if you have injuries. The police can order emergency medical services, if necessary. Give the police officer your contact information. Then, get medical care to treat your injuries. Keep copies of your medical documents for later.
The party at fault for your pedestrian accident will be the one liable for your damages, according to Nebraska’s fault laws. If the driver caused the collision, he or she may owe you financial compensation. File an insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. Describe your injuries and offer proof, such as a police report or medical records. Do not admit fault or accept a small settlement.
Hire a pedestrian accident lawyer to help you navigate the claims process. A lawyer can help you gather evidence against the driver, such as proof that he or she was texting and driving. Establishing negligence or fault could enable you to collect fair compensation for your pedestrian accident damages. The driver could owe you money for your hospital bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.