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Pedestrian Laws: What You Should Know

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A Fall study lists the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area as the 14th most dangerous place in the country for auto pedestrian accidents. The study was conducted by the non-profit organization, “Smart Growth America,” and analyzed auto pedestrian crashes from 2008 to 2017. During those years, data shows that drivers struck and killed 49,340 people who were walking on streets all across the United States. The study found that 5,433 of the deaths occurred in Florida.

So, what are our rights as pedestrians? What do we need to know? And what is our liability as drivers?

  • Any person afoot is a pedestrian, including those in a wheelchair or on roller skates.
  • Aside from maintenance or governmental personnel, a person may not walk upon a highway or a highway ramp connecting to any other street or freeway.
  • If there is a sidewalk on the street, you have to use it.
  • If there’s no sidewalk, you can walk on the road, but you always have to be facing traffic, not walking in the direction of it. If both driver and pedestrian can see each other, an accident is much less likely to occur.
  • Cyclists are not pedestrians, so when on a bike, you should be going in the direction of traffic, preferably in a bike lane if there is one.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way on a marked crosswalk, however, a pedestrian crossing a road at any other point must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles. (And remember to always look both ways!)
  • Pedestrians must obey all traffic signals and cross a road only when the pedestrian light is on.
  • Even when a pedestrian has the right-of-way, pedestrians should make eye contact with drivers before crossing a road to ensure they see him/her and be certain they will stop and aren’t distracted by something.
  • It is illegal to stand on the road to hail a cab, wave down a friend, save a parking spot, or guard your car. Stay to the side of the road!
  • A violation of the above mentioned laws is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a pedestrian violation, and the amount of the penalty is $15, but like any ticket, you can go to court to fight it as well.
  • It’s important for pedestrians and drivers to be aware that Florida is one of 13 states to have a comparative negligence law, meaning more than one person can be at fault for any accident that may occur. So, it’s important for all parties to follow the law, because no one person can necessarily get off scot free in the state of Florida.
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