New laws make pedestrians in Virginia safer

As of July 1, 2020, the roads are a little safer for pedestrians in Virginia.  Prior to July 1st, the law only required vehicles to “yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk”.  At first glance, this may seem sufficient as a safety regulation.  However, this meant that as long as the vehicle allowed the pedestrian to pass, it could then proceed. There was no other time or space regulation for how far the vehicle had to be from the pedestrian or how long the vehicle had to wait before proceeding into the intersection.  At times, a vehicle that just “yielded” might end up a little closer to the pedestrian than many would be comfortable with given a choice.

pedestrian at crosswalk

New Requirements for Drivers

Now, that concern has been dealt with the newly amended Va Code §46.2-924.   In any intersection controlled by a speed limit of 35 mph or less, vehicles are now required to yield to pedestrians by stopping and remaining stopped until such a pedestrian has passed the lane in which the vehicle is stopped.  This requirement exists wherever the pedestrian enters the crosswalk (marked or unmarked).  For example, if the pedestrian enters the crosswalk on the side furthest from you, walking toward your lane of traffic, you must remain stopped until they have passed the lane of traffic in which the vehicle is stopped.

Keep in mind, however, that the law prohibits pedestrians from “carelessly or maliciously” interfering with the orderly passage of vehicles.  Nor should any pedestrian ever enter or cross an intersection disregarding approaching traffic.   Pedestrians are also responsible for paying attention at crosswalks, as well as obeying the “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” warnings when there are pedestrian control signals.[4]

New Requirements for Pedestrians

As a pedestrian, the law also prohibits you from stepping into a highway where you cannot be seen:

No pedestrian shall step into a highway open to moving vehicular traffic at any point between intersections where his presence would be obscured from the vision of drivers of approaching vehicles by a vehicle or other obstruction at the curb or side. The foregoing prohibition shall not apply to a pedestrian stepping into a highway to board a bus or to enter a safety zone, in which event he shall cross the highway only at right angles.

Just as motorists must obey laws to keep pedestrians safe, pedestrians themselves must obey laws meant to keep them out of danger. Pedestrians not only have the right of way on sidewalks, but they are also required to walk on them instead of the roadway when a sidewalk is available. If there is no sidewalk, they must stay to the far left, either facing oncoming traffic or on the shoulder if it is wide enough to provide safe passage.

If you have been injured during an incident when a driver or pedestrian did not follow this law, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Allen & Allen specialize in personal injury cases. Call us today or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.