When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

You might think that as a pedestrian you can walk anywhere you want, but is this true? In general, you might think that if you’re on the sidewalk, you’ve got the right of way.

But what if there’s a median? Or if you’re zig-zagging through an intersection, might a driver consider you to be crossing whether you have the right of way or not?

We explore the rules of crossing when it comes to do pedestrians always have the right of way.


This means that pedestrian crosswalk signs have the legal right to cross the street without fear of a vehicle encroaching on their space. Drivers in the vicinity must yield to pedestrians who are within a properly marked and designated crosswalk; they must wait for the pedestrian to cross completely before proceeding. This is true regardless of whether or not the crosswalk is marked by lines, signs, or signals. 

Checking the Traffic Signals

When a pedestrian is facing traffic signals with a green light, they must cross the road, while drivers must yield. When a pedestrian is facing a red light, they must not cross the street.

Drivers, in this case, have the right of way. At a yellow/amber light, pedestrians should stop, and drivers must slow down and proceed with caution. It is important to obey a crosswalk signal in order to protect the safety of pedestrians. 

Turning Vehicles

Drivers must therefore stop their vehicles and wait for the pedestrian to complete their crossing before turning into the intersection. If it is determined that the driver was not given sufficient time to observe and yield to the pedestrian, the driver may proceed with caution.

Pedestrians, in turn, must use appropriate safety measures such as using a crosswalk, signaling their intention to cross, or making eye contact with drivers before crossing. They must use caution and pay attention to their environment when at an intersection.

If you have been involved in an accident involving a pedestrian, check Esquire Law to protect your rights and ensure that you get the necessary help.

School Zones and Pedestrian Crossings

School zones are areas around schools right of way rules that typically have reduced speed limits, often as low as 15-20 mph. Pedestrians should always be given priority at crosswalks, which are marked with signs and pavement markings. They should always yield to pedestrians at crossings and stop for pedestrians who are in the process of crossing.

When approaching a school zone, drivers should keep an eye out for students and other pedestrians who may be crossing or near the roadway. 

Blind or Visually Impaired Pedestrians

When walking with a guide dog, drivers should ensure that the blind person is completely clear of the roadway before proceeding. When a blind pedestrian is crossing the street, drivers must give the pedestrian extra time to cross and should honk their horns only if absolutely necessary. The driver should not accelerate to pass a blind pedestrian until the pedestrian is completely off the roadway. 

The Bottom Line: Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way

Do pedestrians always have the right of way, regardless of whether there is a signal or not? It is up to drivers to always yield to pedestrians in or near a crosswalk. Remember to be vigilant and drive responsibly.

Follow the law and be courteous to everyone and drive safely so we can all share the road. If we all do our part, we can make a difference. Drive safely and be aware of pedestrians!

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