What Are Your Responsibilities When it Comes to Pedestrians?

Tow young children with backpacks cross at a marked crosswalk with a stopped car in front of them Pedestrians deserve our respect and attention. As a motorist, you have a duty to share the road with pedestrians, cyclists, motorcycles, and others trying to get around. Unfortunately, several thousand pedestrians are killed in accidents with motor vehicles each year, and many more are seriously injured. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 6,200 pedestrians were killed in accidents with a motor vehicle in 2019. These tragic statistics can be prevented in the years ahead with a renewed commitment to sharing the road safely.

According to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, 128 pedestrians were killed and 315 were injured in our state in 2020. With the University of Missouri nearby and an active downtown in Columbia, pedestrians are a daily fact of life in our area. Pedestrians are also found in rural areas where you may not expect them, so it’s important to be alert no matter where you’re driving.

Here are a few tips for being a safer driver who knows how to share the road with pedestrians:

  • Pedestrians have a right to use a crosswalk. If they are crossing from the same half of the road that you are on, you must stop to let them cross. If they are on the opposite half from you, you must yield to them once they are close enough to you that it could be dangerous for you not to stop. Vehicles behind you are not allowed to overtake your vehicle as you wait for the pedestrian. It’s a good idea to stop about 30 feet away from the crosswalk so that the person behind you can see the pedestrian and recognize what is going on.
  • Be cautious when turning at an intersection. Many of the collisions between motorists and pedestrians occur when the motorist is making a turn, whether that’s at an intersection, parking lot, or onto another road from a turn lane. Be extra cautious when making turns. You should be checking for both vehicles and pedestrians (and all other road users) as you make the turn.
  • Don’t drive distracted, intoxicated, or fatigued. Dangerous driving behaviors increase the risk of injuring a pedestrian. Driving requires focus, concentration, coordination, judgment, alertness – all of which are negatively impacted by distractions, drunk driving, drowsiness, and the like.

These are a few ways you can reduce the risk of a pedestrian vs. car accident. If you were injured in a collision caused by someone else’s negligence, we hope you’ll contact our experienced Columbia attorneys for a consultation at 573-499-1700.

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