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Do I always have the right-of-way when walking across the street?

Earlier this year, news was released indicating Tulsa may be one of the more dangerous cities in the country for pedestrians. According to the news article, about 15 pedestrians are killed each year in Tulsa.

Sometimes pedestrians are involved in traffic collisions because motorists behaved recklessly or did not appropriately yield the right-of-way. However, police interviewed for the news article stated that pedestrians can also share some blame for collisions between traffic and pedestrians.

Some pedestrians may mistakenly believe that they always have the right-of-way when they are traveling on foot. However, this misconception can have catastrophic results. Understanding when pedestrians do and do not have the right-of-way can help you minimize your risk of being hit by a car the next time you walk across the street.

Crossing at a crosswalk

When walking, you do have the right-of way when crossing the road at a crosswalk. However, having the right-of-way is not always enough to prevent a collision.

When crossing at a crosswalk, remember to obey all signs and signals and cross within the lines. When signs and signals allow you to cross, look left, right and left again, paying special attention to any drivers who may be turning into your path. Then make eye contact with each driver before crossing. It may not be safe to assume a driver see you unless you make eye contact with him or her.

Crossing at other locations

Sometimes it may be tempting to dash across the street mid-block. Although, if you are crossing anywhere other than a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, you do not have the right-of-way.

Generally, it is not safe to cross mid-block, and you should never step out into the street suddenly, especially where a driver might not expect to see a pedestrian. Motorists may not see you with enough time to safely avoid a collision.

However, if you must cross mid-block consider taking additional steps to help ensure your safety, such as:

  • Locating a well-lit area
  • Making sure you have a good view of traffic
  • Waiting for an appropriate gap in traffic
  • Continuing to look left and right as you cross the street

As a pedestrian, you may need to take extra care to make sure you get safely from one side of the street to the other. However, everyone who shares the road has a responsibility to behave safely. If a motorist’s actions cause you serious injury, it may be appropriate to seek justice. Every situation is different, but you may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses and other costs associated with your injury.


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