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What Are Alabama’s Pedestrian Rules Of The Road?

Posted on June 6, 2018

Alabama road rules do not just dictate the legal use of motor vehicles but also the actions of pedestrians crossing roadways, walking on roads, or near roads. Like laws concerning motor vehicles, these laws protect both pedestrians and motorists from the dangers of cross traffic and busy roads.

When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

Many drivers and pedestrians assume that, no matter the situation, pedestrians have the right of way to cross the road. This is not always true, however, as situations where motorists have the right of way over pedestrians do exist. Understanding which conditions call for whose right of way is the first step to safe travels for everyone.

The law dictates that pedestrians must follow traffic control devices, such as traffic lights. The exception is specific pedestrian guides, like “Walk/Don’t Walk” signals. In these cases, pedestrians must follow the pedestrian signal, regardless of what the traffic lights or other control devices may indicate. When following traffic signals and crossing in a crosswalk, pedestrians have the right of way and motorists must yield to them.

What If No Traffic Control Devices Are Nearby?

When no traffic control devices are nearby or in operation, motorists must yield to any pedestrians using a crosswalk. If a pedestrian is attempting to cross at any point other than a marked crosswalk, then motorists have the right of way and the pedestrian must wait for the road to clear before attempting to cross. Just because pedestrians have the right of way, it doesn’t mean they should assume drivers understand this. Walkers should look up at the vehicles approaching and make sure the driver sees them before heading into a crosswalk.

It is unlawful for a pedestrian to try to cross the road at an unmarked location if a marked crosswalk or working crossing signal is nearby. Pedestrians also may not cross any intersection diagonally, unless a traffic control officer otherwise directs them.

Sidewalks and Walking on the Roadway

If a sidewalk is available, it is illegal for a pedestrian to walk on the roadway instead of a sidewalk. Drivers must yield the right of way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk that meets a roadway. On roads that have no sidewalk, only a shoulder, pedestrians must use the shoulder and keep as far from lanes of traffic as possible.

Where no sidewalk or shoulder is present, a pedestrian may walk on the road. A pedestrian should walk on the left side of the road to face oncoming traffic, keeping as close to the outside edge as possible. If walking on the road, a pedestrian must give the right of way to any oncoming traffic.

Additional Rules

Some additional rules to keep in mind concern very specific situations, like walking on roads while intoxicated. Though the penalties are less steep than driving while intoxicated, it is illegal for individuals who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs to walk on any roadways. Motorists must give the right of way to any blind pedestrians who are carrying a white cane or have guide dogs with them.

Keeping Safe

Even when following the rules of the road, pedestrian injuries can still occur and are often severe. A pedestrian should be able to assume that motorists know and will obey the proper traffic laws, but pedestrians should always be aware of what is going on around them to reduce the risk of injury from oncoming traffic.

Depending on the situation, a motorist or insurance company may attempt to blame a pedestrian in the event of an accident. However, understanding and following pedestrian roadway laws can both reduce risk of injury and chances of liability in an accident. If an accident does occur, discuss your case with a Birmingham personal injury attorney. A lawyer can review any photo, video, or testimonial evidence and present the case in court if necessary.