Practice Pedestrian Safety and Street Smarts
Because our personal injury attorneys see a high incidence of traffic-related accidents causing injury or death to pedestrians, we want to make you aware of how to protect yourself when you’re walking along Tucson’s busy streets.
On average, there is one pedestrian death every 2 hours and another pedestrian-related injury every 8 minutes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though pedestrians are often at the mercy of drivers on the road, in many instances pedestrian accidents are preventable with the proper safety precautions.
Though measures have been taken to reduce the number of pedestrian crashes in Arizona, there were 155 pedestrian fatalities in 2010. The State of Arizona, in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration, is one of the states that have received technical assistance to reduce injuries, fatalities, and crashes.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, these measures include construction of new sidewalks, development of safe routes to walk to school, and the installation of High-intensity Activated Crosswalks (HAWKs).
The Pedestrian Safety Action Plan is designed to reduce the number and frequency of walking-related injuries, crashes, and fatalities.
You have the right-of-way… Right?
Contrary to what many may think, pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way when walking the streets. Arizona law dictates that pedestrians do have the right-of-way when walking in marked, and with exceptions, unmarked crosswalks.
This doesn’t mean that pedestrians do not need to exercise caution. Often times, pedestrian-related injuries happen when they are in a crosswalk and an inattentive driver fails to see them.
Pedestrians do NOT have the right-of-way when they are crossing at any place other than a crosswalk. They are to yield to oncoming vehicles if they’re crossing at any location other than a crosswalk. In fact, pedestrians have an obligation to never, “suddenly leave any curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield” (A.R.S. § 28-792).
Where to walk?
We all know that in a sprawling city such as Tucson, there are not always sidewalks. Since sidewalks are the safest places to walk, if one is present, it is against the law to walk on the roadway.
However if there isn’t a sidewalk, pedestrian law states that you should walk on the left side of a roadway facing traffic. This makes you more visible to oncoming vehicles.
Pedestrian safety tips
- Be cautious when crossing streets at busy intersections. Drivers may fail to yield for pedestrians if they are turning onto a different street. Remain alert and aware of any oncoming vehicles before crossing.
- Increase your visibility. If you are walking at night, wear bright reflective clothing. Carry a flashlight so that you can be seen by drivers.
- Cross in well lit areas at night.
- If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic on the left side of the street.
- Teach children to look in both directions before crossing streets.
- Only cross at designated crosswalks when possible.
- Cross streets when there is a clear view in both directions.
- Never assume that because you are in a crosswalk that you are safe. Sometimes, drivers are inattentive or they ignore pedestrians’ right-of- way.
Driver safety tips
- Drive slowly through neighborhoods, parks, and school zones. Obey posted speed limits.
- Stop at all crosswalks when there is a pedestrian present.
- Do not overtake and pass other vehicles that are stopped for a pedestrian.
- Drive slowly through parking lots where pedestrians may be walking between cars.
- Use caution when turning at intersections; be on the lookout for pedestrians that may have entered your path while you wait for a chance to turn.
Note: Having the right-of-way does not guarantee the safety of a pedestrian. Exercise caution prior to crossing any streets.
For more pedestrian safety tips visit Walk Safe Drive Safe.
This information is provided as a public service by Tucson personal injury law firm Hollingsworth Kelly and is not intended to serve as legal advice.