When Pedestrians Do And Do Not Have The Right-of-Way - Overview of North Carolina Crosswalk Laws | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Thousands of pedestrians get injured every year in North Carolina due to the negligence of car drivers. Pedestrians have the right of way under North Carolina law at all driveways and intersections.

However, that doesn’t really mean that drivers are at fault every time a bus or a car collides with a pedestrian. It is possible for pedestrians to be at fault or act in a negligent manner, which results in an accident.

It is a pedestrian’s duty to exercise reasonable caution while they are in a public space. This does not always happen. For instance, joggers may fail to pay attention while crossing a road because they are using their phone or music player, or an alcoholic pedestrian may recklessly enter a street against oncoming traffic. People fail to take precautions while walking in low visibility when they should be wearing reflective or bright clothing. 

Correlating with this, pedestrians are required to follow certain traffic laws as well. There are several North Carolina pedestrian traffic rules that may get ignored if you are unaware of them.

Ordinary traffic signals controlled intersections

Pedestrians are required to follow the same signals as automobile drivers when traveling in the same direction.

  • Pedestrians should wait for green signal to start walking
  • Pedestrians have the right of way when crossing a green signal, even if there are cars waiting to turn across paths
  • Drivers are required to allow a pedestrian to cross the intersection safely if the traffic signal changes to yellow or red in between

Intersections that do not have traffic signals

  • Pedestrians have the right of way over all vehicles if they are on marked or unmarked crosswalks.
  • Mid-block crosswalks where there are no traffic signals
  • Drivers are required to allow pedestrians to use the crosswalk
  • Intersections with special signals

Pedestrians are required to obey the special “walk” or “don’t walk” signals. However, they have the right of way during special signals in a manner similar to crossing with a green light. This means that a driver has to yield the way if the signal changes mid-way.

Special instructions for drivers

When a car is moving through an intersection upon green signal and the driver notices a pedestrian start to cross the path against a red signal, they are obliged to sound their horn as a warning.

The law also requires all drivers to sound their horn whenever a pedestrian can be affected by their vehicles, as in the event of turning or stopping and starting from a parked position.

Safety tips for pedestrians

While walking pedestrians must:

  • Obey all traffic signals
  • Look for cars before crossing a street
  • Carry a flashlight, walk in well-lit areas, or wear reflective clothing at night
  • Keep an eye out for cars backing out of parking zones
  • Cross the street from a position where they have the best view of oncoming traffic
  • Wait for a bus to drive away or cross behind the bus at bus-stops
  • Always use a sidewalk or walk facing the traffic

Protect your rights with the help of a capable attorney

Pedestrians can be held responsible for accidents if they have violated traffic rules or have failed in their duty to act in a reasonably careful manner. This can be a serious setback under the North Carolina contributory negligence doctrine because compensation is denied if someone is even at partial fault. You may not recover anything as compensation for your accident.

If you suffered injuries as a pedestrian in North Carolina, choose an experienced personal injury attorney who will help you obtain your rightful damages. Call Shapiro & Appleton at (833) 997-1774 to schedule a consultation today.