Practice AreasPedestrian Accident

Separate The Myths From The Laws

Pedestrians who get struck by a vehicle in Utah can claim compensation not just from the driver but also from the municipality if the collision occurred because of faulty traffic signs, broken traffic lights, unsafe roads, and other municipal negligence related to traffic-pedestrian movement.

Pedestrians, however, should be clear about the law. There are many myths about pedestrian accidents that can confuse and confound the common person.

So, we assembled a group of experienced Utah pedestrian accident lawyers at White and Garner to separate the myths from the law. Here is what they had to say:

A. The Myths

  1. Light-colored clothing makes pedestrians more visible to drivers at night – WRONG – because only reflective clothing can make you more visible at night, although there’s no guarantee that it will.
  2. Drivers are responsible enough to stop in time – WRONG – because drivers need to think and react, which is easier said than done, especially in low light conditions.
  3. As a pedestrian, I have the right-of-way – NO, you don’t if you come in the way of a moving vehicle or walk on unmarked crosswalks.
  4. I don’t have to press the crossing button – YES, you do have to because you cannot assume that others may have pressed it before you. Remember that you need to obey the traffic lights, not your instincts.
  5. A marked crosswalk is like a freeway for pedestrians – NO, not necessarily. Ensure that all vehicles stop on multi-lane roads before you cross, and remember that drivers are distracted a lot these days because of all the smart gadgets around them. Ensure that vehicles stop before you cross.

Utah pedestrian accident attorneys at The Garner Law Firm have come across many cases in which pedestrians did not separate the myths from the law, and their cases fell flat.

Now, let us move on to the laws.

B. Laws for Pedestrians

  1. As per Code 41-6a-102, only people on foot or in a wheelchair are considered pedestrians. If you are on a skateboard, or anything else, you are not one.
  2. As per Code 41-6a-1002, all pedestrians are required to obey traffic signals and signs.
  3. A pedestrian cannot create a dangerous situation by entering the path of a moving vehicle. As per Code 41-6a-103, you are required to yield to all vehicles on a roadway if you are crossing outside a marked or an unmarked crosswalk.
  4. Jaywalking is prohibited. As per Code 41-6a-1003, if you choose to cross the road at an unmarked crosswalk point, even if it is flanked by two neighboring intersections with traffic lights, then you are jaywalking.
  5. Pedestrians cannot cross any intersection diagonally unless it is equipped with a specific signal.
  6. Pedestrians should interpret crosswalk signals in the following manner:
    • Start walking only after you see the “Walk” sign.
    • When the “Stop” sign flashes, do not enter the crosswalk. But if you are in the middle of the crossing, then walk up to the end.
  7. Pedestrians must always give way to emergency vehicles (with lights/sirens).
  8. They must obey railroad crossing warnings and not loaf around a railroad crossing.
  9. Visually Impaired pedestrians must be extra careful.
  10. Pedestrians must use the sidewalk. If there isn’t one, they should walk on the shoulder (breakdown lane), and as far away from the roadway as possible. If no shoulder is present, they should walk on the left while facing the traffic.
  11. A pedestrian cannot block or otherwise obstruct traffic on a freeway, state highway, state route, or an interstate.
  12. Pedestrians who have consumed alcohol or drugs can only walk on a sidewalk.
  13. No one can walk along the freeway unless there is an emergency.

C. Laws for Motorists

  1. As per Code 41-6a-706.5, a motorist should not operate his vehicle within three feet of a pedestrian.
  2. A motorist must not divert a pedestrian’s attention with the motive of injuring the pedestrian or forcing him off the roadway.
  3. A motorist is required to yield to a pedestrian at a stop or yield sign in adjacent crosswalks. He is also required to yield to pedestrians in a highway construction or maintenance area.
  4. Before moving out from an alley or driveway, a motorist is required to stop before crossing the sidewalk.
  5. If a pedestrian on a crosswalk is fast approaching the motorist’s part of the roadway, the motorist is required to yield to him.
  6. At school crosswalks, motorists are required to come to a complete stop and flash their lights.
  7. As per Code 41.6a-1002, a motorist cannot pass another vehicle that is yielding to pedestrians at a crosswalk.
  8. Motorists must avoid colliding with pedestrians. They should honk if required, and be extra cautious while driving in the proximity of children or people who are incapacitated or drunk.
  9. All motorists must yield to a visually impaired person (who carry an identifying sign such as a white cane or are accompanied by a guide dog).
  10. All motorists must yield to all pedestrians on a sidewalk.

If you are clear about the laws, and are harmed in an accident, the things that you should do immediately are to get medical help, contact law enforcement officers, get the necessary documentation completed, and get witnesses’ names/phone numbers.

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