What Is the Duty of a Pedestrian?
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.