Florida Pedestrian Law: What You Need to Know

Florida pedestrian accidents occur with alarming frequency.  Simply put, the Sunshine State is a dangerous state for pedestrians and, in fact, is often rated as the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians. It contains many of the most dangerous cities in the country for pedestrians on every annual ranking. With every year that goes by, it seems that Florida’s roads continue to be dangerous for pedestrians, particularly when many intersections lack rudimentary safety measures including a pedestrian walk signal. This is despite the efforts of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to keep pedestrians aware of the many dangers that await them on Florida’s roads. There is often a misunderstanding of Florida pedestrian law as well.

One factor contributing to Florida pedestrian accidents is that many intersections with a lot of foot traffic do not have pedestrian signals that tell those crossing an intersection whether and when it is safe to cross or not.  With a pedestrian signal, it will flash with a white signal that anyone could recognize indicating it is safe to cross and the orange hand tells a pedestrian when it is not safe to proceed.  A pedestrian thus knows (1) when he or she has the right of way and (2), and more importantly, when it is safe for her or she to cross a street.

On the other hand, pedestrians at intersections that lack any sort of indicators to know whether or not it is safe to cross the road are absolutely in the most dangerous situation. This is because pedestrians essentially must judge for themselves when it is or may be safe to cross the road, and it is often difficult to judge whether or not oncoming traffic is approaching at a speed that would allow the pedestrian to safely make it across the road in time or not.  This typically involves trying to follow whatever the lights for motor vehicles going in the same direction are but even this can be deceiving due to turn signals that may give a car turning into the pedestrian’s path right of way.  Therefore, when there is no pedestrian signal, the pedestrian cannot even rely on the traffic lights to accurately predict when it is safe to venture across the road.  This makes intersections without pedestrian crossing signals among the most dangerous places to be a pedestrian in Florida.

Florida Pedestrian Law

Pedestrians are required under Florida law to follow all traffic control devices, including pedestrian signals, when crossing an intersection.  However, there also is a common misunderstanding that pedestrians always have the right of way in every circumstance.  Indeed, there is no absolute protection under state law in Florida for every circumstance for a pedestrian simply to be right because he or she is out and walking on the streets. Indeed, there are laws that require a pedestrian to yield to a motor vehicle, such as when it would be impossible for the motor vehicle to stop if the pedestrian stepped in front of it.

If you are a pedestrian at an intersection where there are no pedestrian signals, you need to be extremely cautious.  Without a pedestrian signal, you are left to decide yourself whether it is safe to cross the road or not.  However, Florida law also provides certain guidelines for you in this circumstance.  You cannot suddenly step off the curb or sidewalk to try to cross the road if it would be impossible for you to do so safely.  In addition, even if there is a crosswalk at any intersection and you have the right of way as the pedestrian, if a vehicle is already in the crosswalk, then the pedestrian must allow the vehicle to pass before attempting to cross.  These are important rules to follow as a Florida pedestrian because they can help you to stay safe in what otherwise might be a dangerous situation.

Contact Schwed, Adams & McGinley

At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of representing the victims of all sorts of Florida pedestrian accidents and other personal injury scenarios in Florida.  We have successfully represented pedestrians who were injured as a result of the negligence of a motorist that did not exercise appropriate care for the safety of the pedestrian.  Therefore, if you, a family member, or a loved one have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation.