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Pedestrian Right of Way: Know Your Rights and Rules

Posted in Blog on April 29, 2015

When it’s human versus vehicle, the vehicle usually wins. With an automobile’s ability to gain speed and the sheer weight of its metal and fiberglass, it is no surprise that a pedestrian who is hit by a car or truck often suffers the more serious consequences.

Colorado, as with other states, has its fair share of pedestrian/auto accidents. There is still significant risk even for those who obey the rules and stick to the crosswalks.

In 2012, the city of Boulder completed a “Safe Streets” study. The study found that the city’s various crosswalks were the site of 44 percent of its pedestrian/vehicle accidents, with many scattered around the University of Colorado.

While there is no guarantee that you won’t ever be a victim of a pedestrian accident, you can try to stay safe by understanding the common causes of pedestrian accidents and the rules you should follow when you’re out and about.

Your Right of Way

In Colorado, pedestrians have the right of way spelled out in the state laws. Many pedestrian accidents arise from drivers failing to yield to the right of way given to those on foot.

Drivers are supposed to:

  • Yield to any pedestrians who are using the crosswalk or at flashing red signals and stop signs.
  • Stop or slow down when approaching an area with no traffic signals or signals that aren’t working properly to allow pedestrians to cross safely.
  • Exercise care for those in the process of crossing the street in residential areas.
  • Not try to pass a car in front of them that has stopped to allow a pedestrian to safely cross. As a pedestrian, you also have some responsibilities under Colorado law that you must be aware of to ensure your safety:
  • Do not cross an insertion by walking in an untraditional pattern, such as a diagonal one.
  • Do not cross in a spot other than a marked crosswalk at intersections that are near each other; otherwise, you must yield right of way to approaching vehicles.
  • Do not suddenly leave a safe spot, such as a curb, and walk into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Colorado law also states that pedestrians must exercise care for their safety even when they do have the right of way. For example, if you see a car speeding up toward the crosswalk and it’s obvious it is not slowing down, do not race across the street to beat the car. The consequences could be tragic and are not worth it.

While failure to yield the right of way to pedestrians is a common factor in accidents, drivers also engage in other behaviors that cause accidents to those on foot. Turning right on red in an intersection without slowing down, or running a stop sign are two common causes cited in pedestrian/vehicle accidents. Drivers may not give pedestrians enough space or drive down neighborhood streets too fast. Alcohol and drugs are also a factor in pedestrian accidents.

Always observe traffic patterns before you attempt to cross a street. By being vigilant, you will protect yourself from a devastating accident. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.

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