Does the Pedestrian ALWAYS Have the Right-of-Way?

When an auto accident involves a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle, the pedestrian is always going to lose. But that’s not always the way pedestrian/vehicular accidents go: sometimes a driver will swerve to miss the person and end up striking another vehicle. Sometimes they’ll run onto a sidewalk and cause damage to a storefront or home in their attempt to avoid causing bodily injury. No matter what kind of damage is done, an investigation will always be conducted to determine who is at fault. Though many think that pedestrians always have the right-of-way, that is not always the case. In fact, pedestrians can be fined for violating New Jersey’s pedestrian safety laws.

According to the State of New Jersey’s website, the state has an extremely high number of pedestrian injury crashes and deaths when compared to the rest of the country. To combat this trend and cut down on pedestrian auto accidents, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety is promoting an education and awareness program to make sure that all members of the community — whether drivers or pedestrians — are aware of the state’s rules. The overall message is that “Pedestrian Safety is a Shared Responsibility,” a motto that underlines the fact that pedestrians need to know their rights and responsibilities as much as drivers do.

The state’s pedestrian laws state that:

  • Drivers are required to stop and stay stopped, for pedestrians in a marked crosswalk.
  • No other vehicle is permitted to overtake or pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians in a marked crosswalk
  • Drivers are also required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection unless police officers are controlling the movement of traffic or where there is a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing.
  • Pedestrians who are crossing a road where there is neither a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection are required to yield the right-of-way to vehicles.
  • Pedestrians must always obey pedestrian signals and use crosswalks at intersections that are signaled.

The laws aside, all pedestrians should use common sense. They cannot simply step into a crosswalk as a vehicle is approaching and expect the vehicle to slam on its brakes, whether they have the right-of-way or not. They are urged to make eye contact with approaching drivers before crossing, and drivers should likewise be aware of pedestrians and slow down where pedestrians are present so that they can stop in time.

If you have been harmed in a pedestrian auto accident and need to know what your legal rights are and who is responsible for your accident, contact Wallace Law today. We will take the time to listen, and answer all of your questions.