Pennsylvania Pedestrian Laws
June 12, 2021
Although accidents involving pedestrians in Pennsylvania declined slightly (six percent) from 2019 to 2020, the state still ranked 15th highest for annual pedestrian deaths in the nation. Traffic engineers at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, or PennDOT, worry that pedestrians will continue to face frightening accident risks as a result of getting used to roadways being less congested over the last year. Despite the fact that the overall number of pedestrian crashes may have decreased, the number of serious or fatal accidents has actually gone up. Some Pennsylvania residents want to know: what laws are there in place to protect pedestrians and keep them out of harm’s way?
Limiting Pedestrian Accidents
Over the years, state legislature has enacted several statutes that aim to limit pedestrian accidents throughout the Commonwealth. While there are several important laws in place to protect pedestrians (and to limit accidents for everyone else on the road, too), here are a few key highlights that are good for every resident to know:
- When there is an absence of working or physical traffic control signals, pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks. Per state law, the driver must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian who is crossing the road within a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at a designated intersection
- A pedestrian shall not suddenly leave a curb or other safe location and walk or run so close to a vehicle that it creates a hazard
- So long as a pedestrian is not crossing at a crosswalk or designated intersection, he or she shall yield to a vehicle. Jay walking is prohibited unless directed by a traffic controller or police official
- Pedestrians on sidewalks have the right-of-way. This means that any vehicle entering the sidewalk from an alley, driveway, or other location must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are traveling on the walkway
- Despite having numerous provisions in place to promote pedestrian safety, a recent PennDOT report showed that PA drivers fatally struck 150 pedestrians last year alone. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable to sustaining major bodily injuries in the event of an accident involving an automobile because they lack the external physical protection that the body of a vehicle affords to its passenger(s). Creating and maintaining pedestrian-specific state laws are not the only steps that Pennsylvania lawmakers have taken, they have also implemented other useful traffic control measures to limit deadly accidents. Just two examples that you can see across the state are the thousands of crosswalk signs that beep when they are counting down and the helpful curb extensions that that give pedestrians a direct line of vision into the street.
How Drivers can Protect Pedestrians
Pedestrian injuries and deaths are not just a statewide issue; they are also a national public health concern. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a driver struck and killed a pedestrian every 85 minutes in a crash in 2019. There are many steps that pedestrians should take to be careful when they are out walking, such as following the rules of the road, walking on sidewalks whenever possible (or facing traffic when there is no sidewalk), keeping alert and avoiding distractions, and crossing at designated crosswalks and intersections. However, it is also critical that drivers take responsibility and do their part to keep pedestrians safe.
Here are a few of the NHTSA’s pedestrian safety tips for drivers:
- Keep an eye out for pedestrians at all times. Be especially careful in inclement weather or when there is less light, like at dusk or nighttime
- Slow down and always prepare to stop when you are turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk
- Never pass a vehicle that has come to a stop at a crosswalk. There may be pedestrians crossing that you cannot see
- Follow the speed limit, particularly when you are driving by people in the street
- Follow posted speed limits in school zones and in areas where children are at-play
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop far enough away that it gives other drivers enough time to see the crossing pedestrians and come to a complete stop, too
Were You Injured in an Accident?
When a pedestrian falls victim to a traffic-related accident, he or she may want to consult with an experienced attorney to file a legal claim for damages. A qualified attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident and carefully review all relevant evidence in order to determine who is liable so that they can procure the best legal outcome for their client.
At Galfand Berger, our pedestrian accident attorneys have successfully litigated pedestrian accident cases. In just one instance, our team represented a client who was hard at work directing traffic when he was struck by a car. Our client sustained a closed head injury, which can cause damage the brain and soft tissue by way of violent movement. Tragically, our client also lost his leg as a result of the collision. Although the defendant-driver’s insurance company denied coverage, we fought for our client and successfully recovered $1.5 million for him during post-trial settlement proceedings.
If you would like to learn more about filing a personal injury claim for your injuries, someone at our firm can help. To learn more, contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
Galfand Berger LLP has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation with our legal team, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.