All Questions

December 10, 2020 | Gary Burger

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

Many of us have been told that "pedestrians always have the right of way" at one point or another. Typically when we are studying for our drivers' tests, we learn that pedestrians always have the right of way. But is this statement true?

When pedestrians are involved, accidents can be even more dangerous than usual. If you were a pedestrian injured in an auto accident or your vehicle was struck in an accident involving a pedestrian, you will likely require legal representation to get a fair outcome in your pedestrian-car accident claim. Burger Law can help. We have dedicated our careers to helping families and individuals recover from their accident and the damages with which they are left. To make the most out of the situation and to get help managing your case, turn to Burger Law. Let us help you by calling us today at 314-542-2222.

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

Simply put, the answer is no, pedestrians do not always have the right of way. But what exactly does this mean, and when do they have the right of way?

The term right of way in traffic law describes who must yield to other motorists and road users. It does not explicitly grant travelers the right to proceed forward without exercising caution. There are many different right-of-way rules that are used in different situations. For example, if you approach a stop sign at an intersection at the same time as another driver, the driver on the left should yield the right of way to the driver on the right, letting the driver on the right move through the intersection first. If you are at a green traffic light and are turning left, you yield the right of way to all the vehicles traveling straight before you proceed to make your left hand turn.

Just as with drivers of vehicles, there are certain right-of-way rules pedestrians must follow depending on the location and the surrounding situation.

When Pedestrians Have the Right of Way

Pedestrians do have the right of way at designated crosswalks. According to Missouri Statute 300.375, drivers are to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the road at a crosswalk while the pedestrian is on the driver's side of the road. This applies only to crosswalks and only where traffic control signals (i.e. traffic lights) are not in operation.

When Pedestrians Do Not Have the Right of Way

Pedstrians actually must follow many of the rules of the road that drivers of vehicles must follow. Just as drivers have a commitment to other drivers and road users, which include bicyclists and pedestrians, pedestrians too are required to act in a manner that keeps drivers, passengers, and other road users safe. This typically entails following traffic laws and general rules of the road as well as being alert and proceeding with caution.

The same statute in Missouri that gives pedestrians the right of way at crosswalks also states that a pedestrian is not to leave a safe place like a curb or sidewalk to walk or run into the path of a vehicle when the vehicle is so close it's impossible for the driver to yield. A pedestrian cannot suddenly jump in front of car and expect that the car will be able to safely avoid them, in other words.

Other instances of when a pedestrian does not have the right of way include:

  • Jaywalking
  • Crossing in the middle of the street, or in the street between crosswalks
  • Walking in areas where pedestrians are prohibited
  • Disobeying a traffic signal (such as crossing an intersection while the "Do not cross" light is illuminated)

Pedestrian-Motorist Accidents

Though it is not true that a pedestrian always has the right of way, drivers must still exercise due care. This means that, as a driver, you must exercise care to avoid striking a pedestrian whenever possible. So even if a pedestrian fails to yield to a driver when the pedestrian does not have the right of way, the driver must do what they can to avoid hitting the pedestrian, while also trying to avoid putting fellow drivers in harm in doing so. As a driver, it's important to realize that, if you approach another vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk, they may be yielding to a pedestrian. You should not attempt to pass the stopped vehicle. This can result in an accident.

St. Louis Pedestrian Accident Lawyer | Burger Law

After you've been hurt in an accident, either as a pedestrian or a motor vehicle passenger or driver, things can seem daunting. Let an experienced law firm who cares about your well-being help you in your injury claim. Gary Burger of the Burger Law firm has a strong history of standing up for those who have been hurt and getting them the compensation to which they are entitled. Contact us today to find out how we can help with your case. Call us at 314-542-2222 or contact us online to get help with your case today.