Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way in Arizona?
Warm weather and sunshine make many Arizona cities perfect for pedestrians year-round. Whether you’re strolling through picturesque Scottsdale or venturing out to a local hiking trail, knowing when Arizona pedestrians have the right of way can help you avoid being struck by a car.
Just like cars and motorcycles, pedestrians are also governed by Arizona traffic laws. For your own safety, learn the answer to "Do pedestrians always have the right of way in Arizona?". Then, if the unthinkable happens and a car hits you, a pedestrian accident lawyer from Brandon White Law will be by your side to help you collect damages.
Who Is a Pedestrian in Arizona?
A pedestrian in Arizona is someone traveling on foot, someone in a motorized or manual wheelchair, or someone using a motorized personal assistive mobility device, like a rollator or a Segway. These are defined as non-tandem, self-balancing two-wheeled devices powered by an electric motor that restricts their speed to less than 15 mph.
It’s important to note that cyclists are not considered pedestrians in Arizona. Knowing whether you are a pedestrian or not makes it easier to know which rules for right of way for pedestrians apply when you are out and about.
Arizona Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws
Most drivers know to yield to a pedestrian, but there are other Arizona pedestrian right of way laws that everyone on a shared roadway must follow. Here is a closer look at the question, "Do pedestrians have the right of way in Arizona?"
Pedestrian Right of Way: Crosswalks
Crosswalks are specifically intended for safe pedestrian crossing, so it may be a logical conclusion to make that a pedestrian may use a crosswalk whenever they wish, and cars must stop.
However, a crosswalk does not automatically give the pedestrian right of way. You can only cross when pedestrian signals indicate that it’s safe to do so.
So, when does a pedestrian not have the right of way? When traffic signals indicate to stop, such as a do not walk sign, red light, or another signal. Pedestrians in a crosswalk are expected to cross quickly and not loiter or hold up traffic.
Cars must slow down and stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, but pedestrians have to wait to give the cars enough time to safely stop before stepping off the curb. Cars that are behind a stopped vehicle waiting for a pedestrian in a crosswalk cannot go around the stopped car and pass.
Pedestrian Right of Way: Jaywalking
Jaywalking in Arizona is defined by ARS 28-796 as crossing a street outside of a marked crosswalk or intersection. And while the answer to "Is jaywalking illegal in Arizona?" is NO, Arizona pedestrians still must follow certain safety rules to avoid a pedestrian accident.
Do pedestrians have the right of way when jaywalking? No. While a pedestrian can reasonably expect a car to stop at a crosswalk, there is no expectation that cars will stop if someone walks out into the middle of the street.
Pedestrians have to yield to vehicles; if there is a nearby intersection, they must use the crosswalk there instead of jaywalking.
Pedestrian Right of Way: Sidewalks
If there is a sidewalk along a street, Arizona law requires pedestrians to use it. Cyclists must use regular lanes on the road, so the sidewalk should be free of vehicles other than wheelchairs and personalized mobility devices.
But where must a pedestrian walk when there are no sidewalks?
If there are no sidewalks, Arizona law indicates you should walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic. This way, drivers can see you and you can see them.
If you are walking in inclement weather or dim light, wear reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to drivers. If you’re looking for a ride while walking (hitchhiking), you cannot stand still on the road — you must either be walking or standing on a sidewalk or curb.
When Do Pedestrians Have to Yield to Drivers in Arizona?
There are situations when a pedestrian must yield to a vehicle. Guided intersections (with a traffic light, walk/don’t walk signs, or stop signs) allow drivers and pedestrians to take turns. This may not prevent pedestrians from crossing when the light is red.
Some drivers may wonder, "Why does the pedestrian have the right of way even if they aren’t following Arizona traffic laws?". Even when a pedestrian isn’t following the law, drivers are still expected to yield — the other option may result in striking the person.
When Is a Pedestrian at Fault for an Accident?
Pedestrian accidents are often the driver's fault, whether they’re driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, texting, and driving, or otherwise not paying attention when operating the vehicle.
But if the pedestrian isn’t following Arizona pedestrian laws, they can share liability for the accident. Arizona pedestrians who are distracted by their phones and not looking out for drivers, or those who are intoxicated, may also be found at fault for an accident.
Arizona is a comparative negligence state; in a personal injury case, the plaintiff (victim) may still be awarded damages if they contributed less than 50% of the fault to the accident.
If the driver is proven to be more at fault than you, the pedestrian, they could be found liable and therefore responsible for compensating you. But your award may be reduced by the percentage of the blame that a judge assigns to you.
Can Pedestrians in Arizona Walk Along the Side of the Road?
If a sidewalk is present, then pedestrians in Arizona are required by law to use it. If there is no sidewalk, or after the sidewalk ends, pedestrians may walk on the side of the road on the far shoulder.
They are to walk facing the opposite flow of traffic, traveling on the left-hand side instead of the right so that both oncoming drivers and pedestrians have the best view of one another.
The same legal requirements that answer "When does pedestrian have right of way?" apply to runners and joggers or people using personalized mobility devices.
How to Prove Liability in an Arizona Pedestrian Accident
If you have been hit by a car, motorcycle, or commercial vehicle while walking along the road in Arizona, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim for damages to cover your medical bills.
An experienced pedestrian car accident injury attorney can help you file the suit. To win your suit, your pedestrian accident lawyer will have to prove that the driver was liable for the accident and your resulting injuries.
Proving liability means collecting evidence that points to the driver’s responsibility, such as:
- Video footage like traffic cams
- Photos of the accident scene
- Eyewitness testimony
- Statements from passengers in the car
- Dashcam footage from the vehicle
- Cell phone records that may indicate the driver was using the phone while driving
These are just some of the elements that your personal injury lawyer uses to build your claim.
How to Avoid Pedestrian Accidents in AZ
Even if you have the right of way, you should still take defensive steps to avoid being hit by a car.
Always wait for a “walk” indicator before crossing a guided intersection, and wait for cars to come to a full stop before you cross at a stop sign.
Double-check that all cars are stopped before crossing the road — a driver looking at their phone may not realize that you are crossing at an unmarked crosswalk.
Turning vehicles pose more of a danger to pedestrians than vehicles traveling straight. Especially with a left-hand turn, the driver may be more focused on making the turn without being hit than looking for pedestrians.
Even if you’re on the sidewalk, there is still a chance a car could hit you when backing out of a garage or driveway. Children or people in wheelchairs may be especially vulnerable since they are shorter than a standing adult.
Parking lots can also be dangerous for pedestrians. Walking around the perimeter of a parking lot may be safer than taking a path through it.
Am I at Fault for My Pedestrian Accident?
Even if you believe that you followed all of the Arizona traffic laws for pedestrians, you could still be found partially to blame for an accident. That is why it can be so important to have experienced personal injury lawyers from The Law Offices of Brandon White representing you.
You may be held liable for the crash if you were intoxicated at the time of the collision or if you were otherwise negligent.
But don’t assume that you’re to blame without speaking with an attorney first, someone who understands the nuances of Arizona pedestrian liability laws. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
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