Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

It’s a common saying: “Pedestrians always have the right of way.” And while it is true that motorists should always do everything they can to avoid hitting people on foot, there are certain times when Illinois law requires pedestrians to yield to oncoming traffic.

In Chicago and throughout Illinois, pedestrians have the legal right of way when:

  • Crossing in a marked or unmarked crosswalk
  • Crossing at an intersection on a green light or “walk” signal
  • Crossing in a crosswalk on a “wait/do not walk” signal when the pedestrian had already entered the roadway on a “walk” signal
  • Crossing with the permission of a police officer or crossing guard

While the above-mentioned scenarios outline the specific circumstances in which the law grants the right of way to pedestrians, Illinois drivers should be aware that they are generally expected to yield to pedestrians whenever possible. This includes any time a pedestrian crosses a street or walks along a roadway and the motorist is safely able to stop or yield.

When Should Pedestrians Yield the Right of Way to Vehicles?

As previously mentioned, Illinois laws clearly state specific scenarios in which pedestrians are required to yield the right of way to vehicles. These laws are in place to not only protect drivers and their passengers but also pedestrians themselves.

In Illinois, pedestrians are required by law to yield to vehicles in the following circumstances:

  • When crossing at an intersection in a marked or unmarked crosswalk and the traffic signal is red and/or there is a flashing or steady “do not walk/wait” signal
  • When attempting to cross a roadway anywhere other than a marked or unmarked crosswalk, including between adjacent intersections with working traffic signals
  • Any time an emergency vehicle (including ambulances and police cars) is approaching with sirens and/or lights on
  • When crossing at designated railroad crossings and bridge gates and/or other barriers are in operation

When pedestrians fail to yield to vehicles, and motorists are unable to safely stop in time, the consequences can be devastating and even deadly.

Other Illinois Pedestrian Laws You Should Know

Millions of people walk around Chicago and other major cities and towns in Illinois every day. But not everyone knows the state’s pedestrian laws. This puts them at serious risk of bodily injury or even death, as failure to follow pedestrian laws could result in a catastrophic accident.

Below are some important Illinois pedestrian laws you should know:

  • Pedestrians should never “dart out,” or suddenly leave a place of safety (such as a sidewalk) and enter a roadway when approaching vehicles do not have enough time to stop.
  • Whenever a designated pedestrian bridge, overhead crossing, or tunnel is available, pedestrians must use it to cross a roadway.
  • Pedestrians should always use sidewalks when they are present; pedestrians may only walk along the roadway when there is no sidewalk.
  • If forced to walk along a roadway, pedestrians should stay as far over in the shoulder/away from the road as possible and walk in the opposite direction of traffic.
  • Hitchhiking is illegal in Illinois; pedestrians who stand along the roadway and solicit rides can face up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
  • Pedestrians are prohibited from soliciting along highways in Illinois for the purpose of business, employment, contributions, or guarding a vehicle.

Any time you walk anywhere near roadways and motor vehicles—even if just from your parked car to a store—you should always be cautious and obey the law. As a pedestrian, you are at the highest risk of severe bodily injury and death in the event of a motor vehicle collision. Knowing the law and following it is the best way to keep yourself safe.

What to Do If You Are Injured in a Pedestrian Accident

If you were injured in a pedestrian-vehicle accident in Chicago or anywhere in the state of Illinois, you could have a case against the driver of the vehicle that hit you. In most cases, motorists are expected and required to yield to pedestrians. If you believe the driver was negligent or acted wrongfully in some way, reach out to our Chicago personal injury attorneys at McHargue & Jones, LLC to learn how we can help.

Since 2000, our firm has been successfully representing clients throughout the Chicago area, providing compassionate and aggressive legal representation in a variety of personal injury claims. We can help you understand your legal options, protect your rights, and get back on your feet after a serious accident or injury.

Get in touch with us today to request a free, no-obligation consultation. Call (312) 739-0000 or contact us online to get started.