Pedestrians in the road face substantial danger from the other vehicles moving around them. Often, pedestrians may assume that they have right of way: that they have the right to move first in all circumstances. However, Alabama law notes that pedestrians do not always have right of way–and, in fact, pedestrians may need to exercise particular caution when sharing the road with larger vehicles, since they may put themselves in greater danger by trying to force right of way when they do not have it.
Traffic Laws and Pedestrians
Pedestrians must follow the same traffic laws that the drivers of vehicles must adhere to. In areas with clearly posted signs or traffic signals, pedestrians must follow those signals the same way vehicle drivers must follow them. Furthermore, pedestrians may need to pay extra attention when entering a crosswalk or other area, since failure to note the presence of a vehicle could increase the risk of a serious accident.
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Alabama Code 32: When Pedestrians do Not Have Right of Way
Ala.Code §32-5A-212 notes several circumstances under which pedestrians must yield to other traffic.
- When crossing a roadway anywhere other than a crosswalk, or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, pedestrians have to yield right of way to the vehicles already on the road.
- Pedestrians who use the road to cross over, despite having a clear pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing, must yield right of way to the vehicles using that road.
- If the area has pedestrian crosswalks, pedestrians should not attempt to cross at any area other than those crosswalks.
- Pedestrians should not cross intersections diagonally unless the signs or crosswalks on the road clearly indicate that the pedestrian has the right to cross in that manner.
- If a pedestrian has a sidewalk available, the pedestrian should use that sidewalk rather than walking on the road directly. A pedestrian who walks on the road, rather than on the sidewalk, could face legal consequences.
Furthermore, pedestrians may not have right of way during times when a traffic signal clearly indicates that the driver has right of way. For example, at pedestrian crossings and lights, the signal determines whether the pedestrian or the vehicle driver has right of way.
Roads, in general, have a clear layout and design intended to provide safe use for everyone who uses them. However, pedestrians often assume that “right of way” means they have the right to ignore the rules of the road. Alabama law clearly establishes that pedestrians must follow the rules of the road like anyone else and that pedestrians who do not follow those regulations may face legal consequences.
When do Pedestrians Have Right of Way?
While Alabama law establishes several circumstances under which pedestrians do not have right of way, the law also allows for several circumstances in which the pedestrian may have right of way.
- Pedestrians have right of way when crossing a crosswalk according to a traffic signal.
- Pedestrians have right of way when they have already entered an intersection or area of the road before the driver appears.
Pedestrians also must take into account Alabama law when it comes to walking on the road. In areas with an available sidewalk, Alabama pedestrians should use the sidewalk to help them navigate safely. On the other hand, if the road does not have a sidewalk, pedestrians have the right to walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
Pedestrians should stay as close to the outside edge of the road as possible. However, pedestrians may need to yield to oncoming traffic, particularly in situations where the oncoming traffic does not have adequate room to maneuver safely due to pedestrian presence. Blind pedestrians, including either those walking with a white cane or those with a guide dog, may fall into a special category, and the drivers of motor vehicles should always yield to them.
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Maintaining Safety as a Pedestrian
Pedestrians can face substantial danger on the road, especially in cases where they ignore the right of way. If you often find yourself walking on or by the road in Alabama, make sure you take these vital steps to help keep yourself safe.
Know Alabama Laws
Pedestrians do not always have right of way under Alabama law. Keeping that under consideration when using the road in Alabama can make it much easier for you to keep yourself and others with you safe.
Avoid Public Intoxication
While intoxication as a pedestrian may not bear the same potential consequences as driving while intoxicated, you should still avoid public intoxication. When drunken behavior includes stumbling, staggering, or behaving in an unpredictable manner, and that behavior contributes to an accident, you may share liability for that accident.
Obey Traffic Signals
Pedestrians must adhere to traffic signals just like the drivers of passenger vehicles. If you ignore clear traffic signals, and your negligent behavior causes an accident, you could bear liability for those actions.
Increasingly, many people have their attention on everything but the road while walking alongside it. If you have your head down, looking at your phone, or you have your attention on your companions instead of on the road, you could miss out on potential signs of a dangerous vehicle, or fail to notice traffic signals that could keep you safe.
Pay attention when walking. Keep your eyes on the road and the vehicles around you. That simple step could help protect you and others with you.
Avoid Reckless Behavior
Dancing, shoving another person into traffic, or stepping recklessly into a crosswalk without looking can all raise the risk of a serious collision. Avoid those behaviors to help keep yourself safe.
Contact an Alabama Car Accident Lawyer After a Pedestrian Accident
Pedestrian accidents can have substantial consequences for everyone involved, including immense medical bills, a legal struggle, and substantial pain and suffering. If you suffered injuries in a pedestrian accident, a lawyer can help. Contact Morris Bart to learn more about your rights following an Alabama pedestrian accident.
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