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Driver and pedestrian rules: The crosswalk

Auto-pedestrian accidents are a concern in Florida due to the large number of occurrences. As such, it is important for drivers to remember that they are responsible for always looking out for, and yielding to, pedestrians. However, it is also the responsibility of pedestrians to follow the laws laid out for them, especially when it comes to crosswalks.

It is commonly misunderstood who has the right of way when a crosswalk is involved. The 2016 Florida Statutes lay out the specific laws regarding pedestrians. The general rule regarding crosswalks is that pedestrians always have the right of way. However, this does not mean that pedestrians can cross whenever they want. They, too, must follow traffic lights and signs.

If there is no crosswalk, it is the drivers who have the right of way and pedestrians must yield to them. When pedestrians are in a crosswalk, however, drivers must give them the right of way, especially if there are no signs or lights to direct pedestrian traffic. The exception here, though, is that when a car doesn’t have enough time to stop, no pedestrian may enter the roadway. At a crosswalk with lights and signs, pedestrians may enter the street when the sign tells them to walk, and all drivers must yield to them.

Of course, following the law only ensures that a person is in the right legally. It doesn’t ensure a person will be safe. It is never guaranteed that a driver will see a person in a crosswalk or even be able to stop in time for someone in the crosswalk. With this in mind, the Florida Department of Transportation advises pedestrians to always be alert and aware to avoid auto-pedestrian accidents. This means always looking both directions before crossing and keeping an eye out for distracted drivers or driver who are not following the law. Pedestrians should also look behind them to check for vehicles when crossing at an intersection. Finally, FDOT suggests pedestrians ensure they have a clear view of the roadway before making an attempt to cross.