Pedestrian Traffic Laws in Virginia

Did you know Virginia State Law requires you to follow rules each time you go for a walk? Certain laws – for instance, not stepping into the middle of a highway – appeal to common sense. However, rules like Virginia Law Code 46.2-928 – that requires pedestrians to walk on the sidewalk if one is available – may be less obvious.

Virginia Law and pedestrian safety

Pedestrian regulations apply to the use of sidewalks, crosswalks, roadways, and highways. 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]

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 easily 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]

Motor vehicles and pedestrians

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.

Be safe when you walk

Always remember to plan your walks well and to take breaks. 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] Don’t just be a good defensive driver – be a good defensive pedestrian as well. Be careful, be safe, and walk your way to a healthy, happy summer!

About the Author: Kathleen is an attorney with the Allen Law Firm whose practice is focused specifically on personal injury cases. She has a wealth of courtroom experience which provides her with a competitive advantage when representing her clients. In addition to defending the rights of people who have been victims of someone else’s negligence, Kathleen also serves as an adjunct professor at Strayer University.


[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/.