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Pedestrian v. Automobile Right of Way: Don’t Bet Your Life on It!

The following article is designed to help you understand the law as it relates to the right of way of pedestrians on and around our streets.

If You Are a Driver

  • Please learn the laws
  • Yield to pedestrians
  • The consequences of striking a pedestrian are never a good thing for you or the pedestrian

If You Are a Pedestrian

  • This article can help you understand your rights and obligations under the law

BUT, regardless of who has the right of way the pedestrian always loses when struck by a car. NEVER just assume a vehicle will yield or stop for you even if you have the right of way. Your life may just depend on it.

The safest method of crossing a street is to do so at an intersection with a traffic light. I have seen far too many cases where someone has died or been tragically injured simply because they did not walk a little further to get to a crosswalk at an intersection with a traffic light. Don’t let that happen to you or your loved ones.

The Rules (as listed in the Nevada Driver’s Handbook)

  1. As a motorist, you must watch for pedestrians on streets and highways. You should be especially careful when children are present
  2. Motorists are required to exercise due care to avoid a collision with a pedestrian and pedestrians must not place a motorist in a position which makes it impossible to avoid a collision. Motorists who cause even a minor collision with a pedestrian may be charged with reckless driving
  3. Drivers must exercise proper caution upon observing a pedestrian on or near a highway, street or road, within or near a school zone or within a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Pedestrians have the right of way when crossing at an intersection. Drivers are obligated to yield to pedestrians who are attempting to cross the road
  4. It is illegal for motorists to overtake any vehicle that is slowing down or stopped until the motorist slows down enough to determine why the other vehicle has slowed or stopped
  5. Be particularly aware and careful of pedestrians at intersections. Watch for pedestrians at stop signs, traffic signals and around transit stops
  6. A crosswalk exists anywhere two streets intersect, even at a “T” intersection. A crosswalk exists even if it is not painted or marked
  7. When a traffic signal turns green, drivers must yield to pedestrians who are still crossing the street
  8. Pedestrians have the right of way over motorists making a right hand turn
  9. If there is a sidewalk, pedestrians should use it. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians should walk on the side of the road facing the traffic
  10. Vehicles yielding to a pedestrian should wait until the pedestrian has crossed into the lanes going in the other direction before proceeding
  11. If a crossing guard is present, motorists must wait until the guard is completely out of the crosswalk before proceeding

SAFE WALKING TIPS

  1. Always use marked crosswalks if possible. If the crosswalk has a signal, obey it
  2. A flashing “Don’t Walk” means do not cross. If you are in the intersection when a signal starts flashing, finish crossing
  3. Before stepping onto the street, look left, look right, then look left again for oncoming or turning traffic. Establish eye contact with drivers who slow down or stop to ensure the driver is yielding the right of way to you
  4. Whenever possible where brightly colored clothing when walking to alert drivers to your presence
  5. If walking at night, carry a flashlight and use reflective material to help drivers see you

Be safe and be courteous and we all go home.

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