At some point in the day most people in Sonoma and Napa Counties are pedestrians. Of course, if you are jogging for exercise or walking to work or school, you are a pedestrian. However, even if you are simply crossing the street or walking through a parking lot you are a pedestrian. As a pedestrian, you have certain rights and responsibilities when sharing the road with automobiles. Moreover, motorists have certain duties when it comes to sharing the road with pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following tips for motorists and pedestrians who are sharing the road together.
What are a pedestrian’s responsibilities on the road?
Pedestrians should obey the rules of the road, including traffic signals and road signs. This makes them predictable. If available, pedestrians should walk on sidewalks rather than on the side of the road. If they must walk on the road, they should do so facing traffic and try to stay as much on the side of the road as they can. Pedestrians should avoid being distracted by their phones while walking and should remain alert to traffic around them. This includes avoiding alcohol or drugs that might cloud their thinking.
Pedestrians should do their best to cross the road at crosswalks or intersections and look both ways before crossing. If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, pedestrians should try to cross the road at a place that is well-lit so they can see motorists and motorists can see them. Finally, if walking at night, pedestrians should wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight with them.
What are a motorist’s duties towards pedestrians?
Motorists are tasked with upholding a standard of care when driving. This includes being aware of pedestrians in their vicinity at all times while driving. If it is dark or the weather is bad, motorists must take extra care to look out for pedestrians. If approaching a crosswalk or turning onto another street, motorists must slow down and yield to pedestrians if necessary. Motorists should also avoid blocking the crosswalk or passing other vehicles at a crosswalk.
Motorists should always avoid driving while intoxicated. Speeding should also be avoided, especially in school zones as children cannot always appreciate the danger they are in and may dart out into traffic. Finally, motorists should take care when reversing especially if they drive a larger vehicle that can obscure their view of pedestrians behind them.
As this shows, both pedestrians and motorists have a duty to share the road safely. However, when it comes to a pedestrian accident it is generally the motorist that will fare better than the pedestrian. After all, a pedestrian has no structural protection or safety equipment to avoid injury when struck by a car weighing thousands of pounds. If a motorist breaches their duty to drive reasonably under the circumstances by striking a pedestrian and but for the accident the pedestrian would not have been injured, the motorist may be held responsible for the damages the pedestrian suffered in the crash.