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Do pedestrians in the road always get the right-of-way?

Have you ever heard anyone say "the pedestrian always gets the right-of-way"? It's an oft-repeated phrase.

crosswalk sign.jpg

However, according to Maryland's own Salisbury University, this is just a myth. The reality is that pedestrians are granted the right-of-way when going through marked crosswalks and controlled intersections. Beyond that, the law directly says that pedestrians are not supposed to delay or stop traffic unnecessarily. Pedestrians are supposed to yield the right of way to cars in unmarked areas and should not impede traffic even in marked crossing zones.

For example, pedestrians can use crosswalks and controlled intersections, but should not simply stand in them so that cars cannot get through. Additionally, pedestrians should not walk out into traffic anywhere they please, assuming that cars have to stop for them. Not only is jaywalking dangerous, but pedestrians do not have the legal right of way if they just walk out into the road.

Of course, that's not to say that drivers should not watch out for pedestrians or yield to them in crosswalks. Ideally, both drivers and pedestrians can work together to safely and efficiently use our roads.

However, people often believe myths if they are repeated often enough. This can lead to confusion, miscommunication, and accidents. It's important for both drivers and pedestrians to fully understand their rights and obligations under state law.

Even at low speeds, accidents with pedestrians can lead to substantial injuries. When drivers do break traffic laws -- perhaps by not yielding the right of way to a pedestrian who is legally in a crosswalk -- it's important for those who are injured to know if they have a legal right to compensation for your injuries and other damages.

Source: Salisbury University, "Crosswalks and Pedestrian Safety," Chief Edwin L. Lashley, accessed May 09, 2017

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