Crosswalk and Sidewalk Rules for Pedestrians in Virginia
Your rights as a pedestrian in Virginia become relevant if you are hit and injured by a car. Although you may think you have a right to protection wherever you are walking, certain laws will govern your level of protection in the Commonwealth.
While some laws such as not stepping into the middle of a highway make perfect sense, pedestrians may be less aware of others such as Virginia Law Code 46.2-928 – that requires pedestrians to walk on the sidewalk if one is present.
Pedestrians are impacted by a number of rules that relate to the use of sidewalks, crosswalks, roadways, and highways. Pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks, and are required to walk on them instead of the roadway if one is present. If there is no sidewalk, you should always keep on the far left either facing oncoming traffic or on the shoulder if it is wide enough to provide safe passage.
Pedestrians are protected by a law that requires drivers to stop for pedestrians. The relevant rule is:
46.2-924. Drivers to stop for pedestrians
“The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway at any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block; at any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block; and at any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour… No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.
The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously. Pedestrians crossing highways at intersections shall at all times have the right-of-way over vehicles making turns into the highways being crossed by the pedestrians.”
Virginia law says pedestrians should use crosswalks if they are available. Often, crosswalks are simple to identify because they are marked or painted in the street. There are also unmarked crosswalks that occur where sidewalks meet and streets intersect. They are not as easy to identify. Pedestrians should look out for these less obvious crosswalks because as pedestrians are required to use them in the same way as marked crosswalks.
Motor vehicles have a duty to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, whether the crosswalk is marked or not. However, the law prohibits pedestrians from “carelessly or maliciously” interfering with the orderly passage of vehicles. The fact you are on a crosswalk does not negate the need to be responsible. Pedestrians are responsible for paying attention at crosswalks, as well as obeying the “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” warnings when there are signals.
The law says pedestrians should not step into a highway open to moving traffic at any point between intersections where his or her presence would be obscured from the sight of drivers of approaching vehicles by a vehicle or other obstruction at the curb or side. The restriction would not apply to a pedestrian stepping into a highway to board a bus or to enter a safety zone, in which event he shall cross the highway only at right angles.
As a pedestrian you should always be on the lookout for vehicles and never assume you have been seen. Make sure to follow the rules and use sidewalks and crosswalks where they are available.
If you have been injured as a pedestrian on the busy streets of Hampton Roads, you should call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077.