Car Accidents

When Do Pedestrians Have Right of Way? Pedestrian Right of Way

a woman crossing the street using a pedestrian crossing at an intersection

When do pedestrians have the right of way? Pedestrian right of way law is misunderstood by many drivers. In the state of Colorado, pedestrians have the right of way in most (but not all) instances. That’s why it’s crucial as a driver, and a citizen to understand the rules of the road when it comes to pedestrian right of way.

What is Pedestrian Right of Way Law?

First thing’s first, what is pedestrian right of way law? Pedestrian right of way refers to the rules that apply to a person walking along a road. Failure to follow pedestrian right of way law can lead to serious legal trouble and even death.

When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

So, when do pedestrians have right of way? Pedestrian right of way varies from state to state, but in Colorado (and many other states), laws tend to lean in the favor of non-drivers. However, that does not mean that a pedestrian can suddenly walk off a curb toward traffic in any instance and expect a car to stop. Not only is that unsafe, but it’s also often illegal. Placing yourself in a vehicle’s immediate path is against the law in Colorado. As a pedestrian, you must practice common sense whenever you navigate a roadway.

Drivers must always drive defensively and keep an eye out for pedestrians – especially as you drive through high-foot traffic areas where people cross the street frequently. As the person in the vehicle, you can seriously hurt someone if you do not pay strict attention to the people around you. So, when do pedestrians have right of way? Below, you can see some of the most important instances in which the pedestrian has the right of way.

When Do Pedestrians Have Right of Way:

Crosswalks without Signals

At a crosswalk without a signal or traffic light, the pedestrian has the right of way. As a car approaches a crosswalk with people trying to cross – even if there is no light signal – they must yield. Designated crosswalks should always have a yield sign to warn drivers. Some yield signs allow pedestrians to hit a button that causes the sign to flash. This serves to catch the attention of driver and remind them of right of way.

However, as a pedestrian at any crosswalk, you should always practice common sense before you begin crossing. Give the roadway a glance in both directions, and don’t start crossing until you see the oncoming car slow down. Unfortunately, you never know when you are dealing with a distracted driver. It’s better to sacrifice your right of way than sacrifice your safety. It’s also important to note that if there is no visible crosswalk the pedestrian does not have the right of way; they must yield to all vehicles outside of marked crosswalks.

Crosswalks with Signals

Pedestrian right of way: crosswalk sign showing walk symbol

At a crosswalk with signals, pedestrians should defer to the signals, because they indicate right of way. As most would assume, when the walking signal shows the white walking icon, you can walk. When the signal shows the red hand, you should wait. At any intersection with signals, pedestrians must use the crosswalk to cross legally. Crossing the street through the middle of an intersection, for example, is considered jaywalking.

Similarly, at an intersection in which there is infrastructure like a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing, the pedestrian must yield to vehicles if they choose to cross the main roadway. In these instances, it’s safest to cross in the provided pedestrian areas. You do not have automatic right of way in the roadway in this instance.

Cars Turning Right

When a car turns right at an intersection with a cross walk (with or without a clear signal), the pedestrian has right of way. Even if the right-turning driver has a green light, the crossing pedestrian with the walking signal should cross first. Whenever turning in a vehicle, the driver should use the proper turn signals to warn pedestrians (and other drivers). This ensures that everyone has an idea of who should yield.

Other Driver Error

If you are in a car, behind a vehicle that you believe incorrectly stopped for a pedestrian, you cannot pass said vehicle because you no longer have the right of way. If the car in front of you stops for a pedestrian, you must also stop. In this instance, it’s no longer safe to pass because the pedestrian began crossing, therefore the pedestrian has the right of way.

Entering/Leaving a Parking Lot

Failure to yield right of way accident: man grabs ticket to enter into parking lot

If a car is entering or leaving a parking lot and a pedestrian wants to cross the sidewalk, the pedestrian has the right of way. For example, if a car is turning into the parking lot of a grocery store, and someone walks across the sidewalk perpendicular to that entrance, the driver should yield, and the walker should cross first.  In this instance, the driver must wait for the pedestrian to safely walk across before entering the parking lot.

Entering/Leaving a Private Driveway/Road

If a car is entering or leaving a private driveway or private road, and a pedestrian wants to cross the sidewalk, the pedestrian has the right of way. For example, if a car backs out of a driveway, but someone is walking their dog on the sidewalk perpendicular to the driveway, the driver must stop and wait.

Always Use Caution: Avoid a Failure to Yield Right of Way Accident

The safest way to navigate the roads – in a vehicle or as a pedestrian is to remain predictable by following public right of way law. It’s also a good idea to stay aware whenever you’re walking near vehicles. Always look both ways, and if possible, make eye contact with the driver to ensure they see you and properly yield before you cross. Never forget the prevalence of distracted driving. While you have many rights as a pedestrian, you never know if an oncoming driver is paying attention as they should, so take a moment to assess the situation whenever you cross a roadway. It’s the best way to avoid accident or injuries.

Failure to Yield Right of Way Accident

Many people are unaware of when pedestrians have right of way. Unfortunately, that means failure to yield right of way accidents are a common occurrence, but highly preventable.  Knowing when do pedestrians have right of way is a great first step in avoiding accidents. As a driver, you must always drive defensively and use caution whenever people walk along the roadway. Always use turn signals so other drivers and pedestrians can predict what you do.

Drive according to the speed limit and slow down in high-foot traffic areas. Always keep your eyes on road and avoid texting, calling, and other distracted driving. Failure to do so can result in devastating accidents and injuries.

If you were involved in a failure to yield right of way accident, you don’t have to face the legal process alone. CO Trial Lawyers is a Denver right of way lawyer that handles pedestrian accidents and justice for injuries that occur from improper right of way procedure.

Contact a Leading Right of Way Lawyer Today

Right of way lawyer: two clients discuss legal options with lawyer

So, now that you know the answer to the question: When do pedestrians have right of way? You can prepare for anything and navigate roadways safely. However, if you were injured in a failure to yield right of way accident, contact the personal injury law firm, CO Trial Lawyers today. We can help identify the right next steps to help you seek justice.

Contact 303.390.0799 today to get your free consultation from CO Trial Lawyers.