Can Pedestrians Cross Unmarked Crosswalks?

A fatal pedestrian accident occurred in Raleigh this week, as reported by the Raleigh Police Department. The department confirmed that a man, aged 27, was struck by a motor vehicle around 8 p.m. He was struck while crossing an area that was not marked as a crosswalk. Sadly, the victim died from his injuries at the accident scene. No criminal charges have been filed yet as police officers continue investigating who was at fault.

Officers do not suspect that alcohol intoxication played a role in the accident. As evidenced by this case, pedestrians face the risk of being seriously injured when they are crossing the street. Every year, 3,000 pedestrians are hit by vehicles every day in North Carolina, many suffering severe injuries or even death. Drivers and pedestrians in North Carolina should understand crosswalk rules and follow them to reduce the risk of preventable pedestrian accidents.

When are Cars Required to Yield to Pedestrians?

Every state has its regulations related to crosswalks. Additionally, cities and municipalities may have additional regulations. Under North Carolina law, pedestrians get the right of way in crosswalks. Even if they are not at an intersection, drivers must legally yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. This is true even when the pedestrian is standing and waiting on the sidewalk before entering the crosswalk. In North Carolina, marked and unmarked crosswalks are treated the same under the law.

The relevant statute says that when traffic control signals are not in place or not operating correctly, drivers still must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are crossing the road. Pedestrians should be crossing within a marked crosswalk or any unmarked crosswalk at or near an intersection. Every driver, regardless of the type of vehicle they are in, is required to stop and let the person cross. This regulation also applies to bicyclists.

“Walk” and “No Walk” Signals at Intersections

When intersections have designated walk signals, pedestrians always have the right of way when the signal says walk. This is true even if the light is green for the driver. The same rules apply at an intersection with no designated walk signal. In this case, the pedestrian must obey the street light signals for traffic heading in the same direction. For example, suppose the pedestrian is walking north, and the driver headed north has a green light. In that case, the pedestrian also has a green light.

Unmarked Crosswalks

Unmarked crosswalks are locations where sidewalks are at an intersection but continue on the other side. This location implies that there is an invisible crosswalk at an intersection. If the pedestrian is still waiting to cross at a crosswalk, cars still have to yield. Otherwise, the pedestrian would be stuck at the crosswalk for a long time. In other words, when a pedestrian is located at the entrance to an unmarked crosswalk, the sidewalk part of the crosswalk is still considered part of the roadway itself.

Many pedestrian accidents occur at unmarked crosswalks when drivers are not paying attention to the intersection. There are no lines indicating a crosswalk, making it more difficult for drivers to spot the crosswalk. Even though these crosswalks are unmarked and harder to see, drivers still have a legal obligation to yield the right of way to pedestrians.

Mid-Block Crosswalks

Mid-block crosswalks can be seen in downtown Charlotte and frequently occur at non-intersections. They rarely have designated pedestrian traffic signals. Under North Carolina law, these crosswalks are considered the same as intersection crosswalks. As a result, drivers are legally obligated to yield to pedestrians standing at or crossing a mid-block crosswalk.

Crossing Without a Crosswalk

When there is no crosswalk nearby, including no unmarked crosswalk, drivers have the right of way. Pedestrians must use their best judgment and only choose to cross the railway when it is safe. Drivers cannot be expected to stop in the middle of the road for pedestrians.

Crossing a Highway

When a pedestrian is trying to cross outside a crosswalk, such as on a highway, the pedestrian must yield to the vehicle. In this situation, the pedestrian is legally obliged to pay attention when crossing the highway and only begins crossing when it is safe. A driver should still attempt to slow down or stop, even if the pedestrian is not following traffic regulations. It is always a good strategy to be safe when driving.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you or your loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, you will benefit from speaking to an experienced attorney. Contact the Charlotte personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule your free case evaluation and learn more about your legal options.

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