Pedestrian Safety: Crosswalks

Author: P. Christopher Guedri, Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney

We typically think of a crosswalk as a safe place for pedestrians to cross the street, but the rules and laws that govern crosswalk safety are not always well known by drivers and pedestrians. Sometimes, pedestrians choose not to use crosswalks or cross at incorrect times, which puts their safety in jeopardy. To ensure your own safety as well as the safety of others at crosswalks, you should use crosswalks properly and understand the appropriate laws and safety precautions.

Always Use Crosswalks

The first step in crosswalk safety for pedestrians is to use crosswalks when they are available, and to use them correctly. In 2014, nearly 1,032 pedestrians were killed in situations where there was a designated crosswalk, but it was not used correctly.[1]

To avoid accidents, you should always use crosswalks even if it may seem inconvenient to walk to the crosswalk - a few extra minutes are not worth the safety risk of jaywalking into traffic.

How to Use a Crosswalk Properly

To use a crosswalk properly means to push the “walk” button when available and to wait for the “walk” signal to flash before crossing. It is also important to use common safety precautions while crossing the street at a crosswalk. Always look both ways, and watch for turning vehicles that may not see you crossing in the crosswalk.

Pedestrian Safety Tips

In addition to always using crosswalks, there are other safety tips that can help ensure that you, your children, and others are safe while crossing the street.[2]

  • Make sure young children always cross the street with an adult.
  • Wear visible colors. Bright colors like yellow, orange, and white will make it easier for drivers to see you.
  • Carry flashlights in the dark. Dark mornings and evenings can make it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians. Carrying flashlights or using reflective gear can help you be seen in the dark.
  • Never assume that a driver sees you, even when you are using a crosswalk. Enter crosswalks with caution and try to make eye contact with the driver if a car is approaching you.[3] Teach children to do the same. Children should proceed with caution if crossing the street alone.  If a crossing guard is present, try to cross the street at that location.

Crosswalks are designed to be safe places for pedestrians to cross roads. When used properly, crosswalks can help avoid traffic collisions involving pedestrians and save lives. You will be much safer if you remember to use crosswalks whenever possible, follow crosswalk rules, and use your common sense.

About the Author: Christopher Guedri is a Partner Emeritus and trial attorney with the personal injury law firm of Allen & Allen in Richmond, VA. Guedri was named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers in America for 2015 in the Personal Injury Litigation - Plaintiffs category in Richmond, VA. He is a Fellow for the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers and has an AV rating from Martindale Hubble. Additionally, Chris Guedri has been listed in the "Legal Elite" by Virginia Business Magazine and as a "Virginia Super Lawyer" by Richmond Magazine.


[1] http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal_injury_reports.html

[2] http://www.safercar.gov/parents/OnTheMove/walking.htm

[3] See PDF titled “Everyone Is a Pedestrian!” at http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/everyoneisapedestrian/index.html.

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