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Pedestrian Rights in Virginia

Pedestrians in Virginia must follow law too.  Pedestrians do not have the right of way on the roadway all of the time.

Pedestrians may not interfere with the orderly travel of cars on the highway. If a crosswalk is available, Virginia Pedestrian Laws – Altizer Law
then the pedestrian must use that crosswalk.  If there is no crosswalk at an intersection, then the pedestrian must exercise ordinary care.  Va. Code. Ann. Section 46.2-923 states in part:  “When crossing highways, pedestrians shall not carelessly or maliciously interfere with the orderly passage of vehicles. They shall cross, wherever possible, only at intersections or marked crosswalks. Where intersections contain no marked crosswalks, pedestrians shall not be guilty of negligence as a matter of law for crossing at any such intersection or between intersections when crossing by the most direct route.”

Pedestrians must walk on the sidewalk if one is available is good example.  Va. Code Ann. Section 46.2-928 states:  “Pedestrians shall not use the roadways for travel, except when necessary to do so because of the absence of sidewalks which are reasonably suitable and passable for their use. If they walk on the hard surface or the main traveled portion of the roadway, they shall keep to the extreme left side or edge thereof, or where the shoulders of the highway are of sufficient width to permit, they may walk on either shoulder thereof.”

But drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians when:

  1. The pedestrian is in a clearly marked crosswalk/
  1. The pedestrian is walking at any regular pedestrian crossing, like a sidewalk;
  1. The pedestrian is walking at any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.

Va. Code Ann. Section 46.2-924.  

In other words, you cannot walk in the middle of the road!  A common sense approach is most helpful – pedestrians stay out of harm’s way.  A dangerous assumption is that because the pedestrian is not protected by 2500 pounds of steel and metal that this vulnerability allows the pedestrian to walk where he wants.  This is just not true.

If the pedestrian is in a cross walk or in an area where cars should not travel, then the pedestrian has the right of way.  Right of way designates the person or car that may proceed through an intersection or across a street over the right of another.  It is the legal right to proceed with precedence over others in a particular situation or place.  In others, it is the right that allows you to go first before another driver.

But pedestrians are not permitted to step onto the highway open to moving cars where their presence would be hidden from view.  Va. Code Ann. Section 46.2-926 states:  “No pedestrian shall step into a highway open to moving vehicular traffic at any point between intersections where his presence would be obscured from the vision of drivers of approaching vehicles by a vehicle or other obstruction at the curb or side. The foregoing prohibition shall not apply to a pedestrian stepping into a highway to board a bus or to enter a safety zone, in which event he shall cross the highway only at right angles.”

When there are control signals governing walking, then the pedestrian must follow those control signals.  Va. Code Ann. Section 46.2-925 states:

“Whenever pedestrian control signals exhibiting the words, numbers, or symbols meaning “Walk” or “Don’t Walk” are in place such signals shall indicate and apply to pedestrians as follows:

Walk. –Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the highway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right-of-way by the drivers of all vehicles.

Don’t Walk. –No pedestrian shall start to cross the highway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his crossing on the Walk signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island and remain there while the Don’t Walk signal is showing.”

Some other miscellaneous Virginia laws govern hitchhiking activity and boarding and exiting a bus.  Va. Code. Ann. Section 46.2-929 prohibits pedestrians from standing or stopping on any road for the purpose of soliciting rides.  So if you want a ride, keep moving and throw the thumb in the air – but I would not advise hitchhiking at all.  This is dangerous for both the hitchhiker and the person picking up a hitchhiker.

Va. Code Ann. Section 46.2-927 gives the person boarding or exiting the bus the right of way.  But you can’t linger – or “step into the highway sooner or remain there longer than is absolutely necessary.”

So these are statutes that legalize common sense.  Cars are bigger than pedestrians so even when the pedestrian has the right of way take extra caution as the car is going to win even if you have the right of way.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian vs. vehicle accident, call us. We can help you assess your rights and pursue justice on your behalf.