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Cars, cyclists, and pedestrians must share the road to avoid accidents and injuries. A common assumption is that pedestrians always have the right of way, but this isn’t the case. Like everyone else, pedestrians have rights and rules they must adhere to.

Who Counts as a Pedestrian?

Virginia defines a pedestrian as anyone on foot or, more specifically, anyone not using a motor vehicle. This means a person walking or riding a skateboard, scooter, or roller skates is considered a pedestrian.

When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

“Right of way” is the legal privilege to proceed ahead of others under certain circumstances. Va. Code Section 46.2-924 states that pedestrians in Virginia have the right of way in the following situations:

  • At clearly marked crosswalks, whether at an intersection or in the middle of a block
  • At any intersection where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less, whether a crosswalk is present or not
  • At any regular pedestrian crossing, including the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block
  • When a traffic control device, law enforcement officer, or crossing guard directs drivers to yield to pedestrians
  • On sidewalks, where unauthorized motor vehicles are prohibited.

When Do Motorists Have the Right of Way?

Virginia drivers also have rights. Here’s what the law states:

  • Pedestrians must use crosswalks when available. If no crosswalks are present, pedestrians must wait for approaching vehicles to pass before crossing the street.
  • Motorists have the right of way when the “Do Not Walk” warning signal is present at an intersection.
  • Pedestrians are prohibited from stepping onto highways and freeways.

How Pedestrians Can Help Prevent Accidents with Motor Vehicles

The next time you find yourself navigating the street on foot, stay safe by following these tips:

  • Remain alert of what’s happening around you. Avoid listening to music on headphones or constantly looking down at your phone.
  • Use sidewalks when available. If there is no sidewalk, stick to the left side of the street. It’s easier to watch for approaching vehicles when facing oncoming traffic.
  • Cross at crosswalks when available and obey all traffic signals.
  • Wear bright colors for increased visibility.
  • Look left, right, and left again before crossing.
  • Make eye contact with nearby drivers to make sure they see you before you cross.

Who is Liable for Pedestrian Accidents?

Many people assume motorists are always at fault, but pedestrians could be partly to blame if they violate a traffic signal. Of course, pedestrians could be entirely at fault if they dart into the path of an oncoming car.

Get Legal Help After a Pedestrian Accident in Virginia

If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, either while walking or driving a vehicle, Childers and Associates can represent you. We’ll help you understand your rights and work to get you the compensation you deserve. Call our Manassas, VA, office at (703) 330-6300 to request your free case review.