Pedestrian traffic laws in Virginia: Jaywalking, crosswalks and more

Did you know that pedestrian walking laws are in effect each time you go for a walk? Certain traffic laws, such as not stepping into the middle of a highway, appeal to common sense. However, rules that require pedestrians to walk on the sidewalk if one is available, may be less obvious.

pedestrians on the sidewalk

Sidewalks are mandatory, when available

Pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks, and are required to walk on them instead of the roadway when a sidewalk is available. If there is no sidewalk, stay to the far left, either facing oncoming traffic or on the shoulder if it is wide enough to provide safe passage.[1]

Crosswalks are safest

Virginia law requires that pedestrians use crosswalks if they are available. Often, crosswalks are easy to identify because they are marked or painted in the street. Unmarked crosswalks, however – defined as occurring anywhere sidewalks meet and streets intersect – are less identifiable. Be on the lookout for these less obvious crosswalks, as pedestrians are required to use them in the same way as marked crosswalks. [2]

If there’s a “walk” button at the intesection, press it and wait for the walk signal. Do not attempt to run across at the last minute when time is running out.

Jaywalking is always dangerous

Pedestrian traffic laws have changed, and while jaywalking has been decriminalized in Virginia, the law exists for a reason. It is unsafe to cross the street outside of an intersection, where a speeding car may not see you. Cars are accustomed to traffic signs and signals at intersections, and are not used to people entering a roadway in the middle of a thoroughfare.

crosswalk in new york city

Do pedestrains have the right-of-way?

Motor vehicles must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, whether the crosswalk is marked or not. Keep in mind, however, that the law prohibits pedestrians from “carelessly or maliciously” interfering with the orderly passage of vehicles.[3] 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]

As a pedestrian, the law [5] 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.

Pedestrian satety tips

  • 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. 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.
  • Don’t try to hitchhike or catch a ride, because pedestrians are never permitted to stand or stop in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting transportation.[6]

Being a defensive driver is key, as is being a defensive pedestrian. If you or a loved one have been injured in a pedestrian accident through no fault of your own, the experienced attorneys at Allen & Allen may be able to help. Call today for a free consultation at 866-388-1307.

 


[1] See Va Code § 46.2-928; at http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title46.2/chapter8/section46.2-928/.

[2] See Va Code §46.2-923; at http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title46.2/chapter8/section46.2-923/.

[3] See footnote 2 above.

[4] See Va Code § 46.2-925; at http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title46.2/chapter8/section46.2-925/.

[5] See Va Code § 46.2-926; at http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title46.2/chapter8/section46.2-926/.

[6] See Va Code § 46.2-929; at http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title46.2/chapter8/section46.2-929/.