Pedestrian accidents are included in the most fatal type of accidents along with head-on collisions, roll-over crashes and bicycle accidents. Pedestrian accidents can also result in serious injuries. While drivers have a responsibility to pay attention to prevent accidents on the road, pedestrians have equal responsibility to stay alert while walking on sidewalks or crossing the road. In this article, accident lawyer, Jeffrey Meldon discusses some rules of the road for pedestrians. Here is the information you should know to be safe and legal while sharing the roadways with vehicles:
- Any person afoot is a pedestrian. This includes a person in a wheelchair or roller skates.
- Aside from maintenance or governmental personnel, a person may not walk upon a limited access facility (highway or freeway) or a ramp connecting a limited access facility to any other street or highway.
- According to Florida Statute §316.130, where sidewalks are provided, a pedestrian must not walk on the road, but should walk on the sidewalk.
- Where a sidewalk is not provided, a pedestrian can walk on the road. (Warning, always be cautious and remember that sharing roadways with cars always places one in greater danger.) When a sidewalk is not provided, a pedestrian should walk only on the shoulder on the left side of the roadway as related to the pedestrian's direction of walking, facing the oncoming traffic. (A driver and a pedestrian who face each other are more aware of each other's presence, and this reduces the likelihood of any kind of accident.)
- Cyclists are not considered pedestrians, thus roadway cyclists are required to travel on the right.
- Pedestrians have the right of way on a marked crosswalk; a pedestrian crossing a road at any point other than within a marked crosswalk must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles. (When crossing, a pedestrian should look left, right and left again to ensure that he or she has a safe way to cross.)
- Pedestrians must obey all traffic signals and cross a road only when a pedestrian light is green. (However, even when a green light is on, a pedestrian must still make sure that the cars are stopping.)
- Even when a pedestrian has right-of-way, not all cars will stop. A driver may be distracted and not notice a pedestrian or a traffic light, so a pedestrian should make eye contact with the drivers before crossing a road to ensure they see him/her. After checking that the light is green and that it is safe to cross, pedestrians should move upon the right half of crosswalks (Florida Statute §316.130(13)).
- Florida law prohibits a person to stand on the road paved for vehicular traffic to solicit a ride, employment, or business from the occupant of any vehicle. In addition, a person cannot stand on or near a street or a highway to solicit the watching or guarding of any parked vehicle or a vehicle about to be parked on a street or highway.
- A violation of the above mentioned laws is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a pedestrian violation. According to Florida Statute §318.14(4) & (5), a person may either elect to appear before a designated official or pay the civil penalty and delinquent fee, if applicable, either by mail or in person, within 30 days after the date of issuance of the citation. Per §318.18, the amount of penalty for a pedestrian violation is $15.
Safety always comes first. Stay visible and wear clothes with reflective material at night. Stay out of blind spots. Always be alert - even wearing the headphones may decrease your ability to hear horns or noise from the oncoming traffic. Following the law, paying attention, and being aware of one's surroundings will help one avoid dangerous situations and injurious, or even fatal, accidents.