blog home Pedestrian Accident When do pedestrians have the right of way in Virginia?

When do pedestrians have the right of way in Virginia?

By John Singleton on October 20, 2021

A pedestrian in Virginia is anyone on foot, or anyone who is not using a motor vehicle. A person using a skateboard, roller skates, or an e-scooter could be considered a pedestrian.

Bicyclists may also be included in the pedestrian category, although they are required to yield to people on foot. Right of way is the legal right to proceed with precedence over others in certain situations and locations.

Virginia has enacted laws to help protect pedestrians at Va. Code Section 46.2-924. Pedestrians have the right of way when crossing under the following circumstances:

  • At clearly marked crosswalks, whether they are located at the end or the middle of a block
  • At any intersection where the driver is approaching with a speed limit of no more than 35 mph
  • At any regular pedestrian crossing including the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block
  • When a traffic control device or law enforcement officer directs drivers to yield to pedestrians

Pedestrians always have the right of way on sidewalks. A driver who enters, crosses, or turns at an intersection where a pedestrian is crossing must stop, slow down, or change course to allow the pedestrian to cross safely. When a vehicle is stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross, other drivers approaching from behind or adjacent lanes are prohibited from overtaking and passing the stopped vehicle.

When do motorists have the right of way in Virginia?

Motorists also have rights in Virginia. When crosswalks are available, pedestrians are required to use them. When no crosswalks are available, pedestrians may still cross the road, but they must yield the right of way to motorists. Under the law, pedestrians must allow approaching vehicles to pass before they cross. Pedestrians are required to obey traffic signals at crosswalks. When “Don’t Walk” or other warning signs are present, pedestrians must yield the right of way to drivers. In addition, Virginia law specifically prohibits pedestrians from stepping into a highway where they cannot be seen because of an obstruction to approaching drivers’ vision.

What can pedestrians do to help prevent a collision with a motor vehicle?

To stay safe as a pedestrian:

  1. Remain alert and aware of your surroundings.
  2. Put your smartphone away and refrain from listening to music.
  3. Use sidewalks when they are available, or walk on the side of the street facing traffic and watch for approaching vehicles.
  4. Cross at crosswalks whenever possible, and obey traffic signals.
  5. Wear white or bright colors to make it easier for drivers to see you.
  6. Even when you are crossing on a green light in a crosswalk, watch approaching drivers and meet their eyes to make sure you have been seen.

Who is liable for pedestrian accidents in Virginia?

A common misconception is that a motorist who hits a pedestrian is always liable. In some cases, the pedestrian may be entirely at fault for an accident, for example, if he darts out into the middle of the road into the path of an approaching car.

In other cases, the injured pedestrian may share some fault for the accident with the driver. This could happen if a pedestrian crosses at an intersection in violation of traffic signals and a driver turning at the intersection hits the pedestrian.

How can I get legal help following a pedestrian accident?

Virginia follows a pure contributory negligence rule that bars victims from recovering compensation if they bear any degree of fault for the accident. This is why it’s important to speak with an experienced Virginia pedestrian accident attorney right away if you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, either as a motorist or as a pedestrian.

Call GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys at (804) 413-6777. Our partners know firsthand what it’s like to be an injury victim. We offer a free consultation to anyone involved in an accident.  Then, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay us no fees until we win a recovery for you.

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