Pedestrian Rights and Responsibilities

PEDESTRIAN RIGHTS AND DUTIES

Have you ever wondered what the laws are that govern pedestrian crossing? Such as, “Who has the right of way?” This is a good question. Undoubtedly this question comes to mind when you are insisting on the right of way as a driver or insisting on the right of way when traveling on foot. But, here is what the law has to say.

GOVERNING LAW

Article 27, Sections 1150–1157 of New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (NYS VTL§§ 1150–1157) details when pedestrians have the right of way. The law subjects pedestrians to the same traffic signals as cars. These laws are designed to keep safe those traveling by foot. Naturally, pedestrians are less protected than someone driving a car. As the law shows, pedestrians do not always have the right of way.

WHEN NO SIGNALS ARE PRESENT

Pedestrians have the right of way when they are using a crosswalk that has no traffic signals. Even so, a pedestrian cannot cross the street when doing so would make it unreasonable for an approaching car to yield or stop for them. Doing so would put both the driver and pedestrian in harms way.

Pedestrians, however, do not have the right or way when they cross the road instead of using a designated tunnel or overpass. (VTL § 1151). Choosing to do this is a poor choice that can place a pedestrian at high risk for injury.

WHEN NO CROSSWALKS ARE AVAILABLE

Cars have the right of way when no crosswalks are available for pedestrians to use. (VTL § 1152).

PRACTICAL TIPS

Always stay to the right of the crosswalk whenever possible. (VTL § 1155). Not only is it unsafe to walk on the road, but illegal to do so when a sidewalk is available and safe to use. However, when there is no sidewalk be safe by walking on the shoulder of the road, towards oncoming traffic. (VTL § 1156). Drivers, keep in mind that it is illegal speed up and pass a car that is stopped for a pedestrian crossing the street via a crosswalk. Pedestrians and driver, remember: just because you can does not mean you should. Be courteous whenever possible.

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