Remember the Rules for Pedestrians

It’s no secret that the traffic in the DC area is some of the worst in the country. According to an article in the Post, we’re only second behind Los Angeles as the city with the worst traffic in America. It isn’t necessarily the city as much as it is the outlying suburbs that are the problem. The Beltway circles the city on both the Maryland and Virginia side, and every day hundreds of thousands of commuters ride into the city from Bethesda, Beltsville, Gaithersburg, Alexandria, Arlington, Annandale, Fairfax and any other of the dozens of cities and neighborhoods that aren’t actually in the city.

For many of us that live in DC proper, it just isn’t worth it to own a car. There aren’t many places to park, and when you can park you have to constantly watch the clock in order to avoid the constant presence of the meter maids. So many of us choose to make use of our transit system, or walk and ride bikes when we can’t do that.

That can be a real problem when the city is packed to the brim with drivers that are used to the much different traffic patterns of the suburbs of Maryland and Northern Virginia. Simply being a pedestrian or riding a bike can be a dangerous proposition. Getting hit by a car or bus when you are walking or riding a bike is not a far off, unlikely to occur event.

The laws regarding the right of way are quite rightly slanted in favor of bicyclists and pedestrians. After all, even the lightest of subcompact cars still outweighs a guy on a bike or in his sneakers. The damage that is done when someone is hit by a car is tremendous, so every courtesy must be given to those who don’t happen to be behind the wheel of a car.

Since pedestrian accidents are a real danger, it never hurts to go over the rules one more time.

  • Drivers must RESPECT THE RIGHT OF WAY OF PEDESTRIANS. That means they have to allow them to cross at crosswalks, corners, or corners without traffic lights.
  • Drivers cannot pass cars that have stopped at crosswalks. If a car has stopped at a crosswalk, it is probably for a very good reason.
  • Drivers can’t stop in a crosswalk. Forcing pedestrians to walk around you puts them at risk of being hit by other cars.
  • Pedestrians have the right of way even when the crosswalk is in the middle of the street. A crosswalk is just as good as (and has the same purpose as) a stop sign.
  • When you turn left at an intersection, LOOK CAREFULLY for any bicyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists. This is a very serious matter. Many pedestrians have been killed because a driver was in a hurry to beat the traffic in the other lanes.

This isn’t some labyrinthine code designed to confuse. It is a nice blend of common sense and concern for the safety of the millions of us that don’t drive. If you can’t follow these simple rules, then maybe you shouldn’t be driving.

Lewis and Tompkins is a Washington, DC personal injury firm that represents victims of pedestrian and bicycle accidents. If you or a loved one has been struck by a car while walking or riding a bike, contact our offices for a free legal consultation today.

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