Rules of the Road for Pedestrians

New Mexico ranks #1 in the nation for pedestrian deaths. That’s one #1 spot we would be glad to give up. And we can because pedestrian fatalities are preventable. We can make it safer for pedestrians (and cyclists) to share the roads if drivers and pedestrians know and follow the rules of the road.

Who Has the Right of Way

Roads are meant to be driven on, yet pedestrians have the right to use and cross roadways to get where they need to go. So, who has the right of way on city streets?

As a general rule, pedestrians have the right of way:

  1. In areas designated for pedestrian use, such as crosswalks and sidewalks
  2. When traffic signals indicate pedestrians may cross traffic lanes
  3. When a crossing guard indicates pedestrians may cross traffic lanes

Pedestrians can be held liable for accidents that result in personal injury to themselves or others if they attempt to cross traffic lanes when they do not have the right of way.

Areas of Greatest Pedestrian Risk

Although pedestrians may have the right of way, the fact remains that cars are heavier, and their momentum increases their force of impact, putting pedestrians at greater risk for injury and death on shared roadways. So, pedestrians must always be vigilant in watching for vehicles. Situations that require careful attention include:

  • Walking in a crosswalk across a lane into which a driver may legally enter by making a right turn at a red light or stop sign
  • Walking in a crosswalk across a lane into which a driver may legally entry by making a left turn during a green light or at a stop sign

Drivers are often focused on making their turn and/or watching for oncoming traffic that they forget to look for pedestrians.

Pedestrians are also at increased risk in the hour just after sunrise and just before sunset as these are high-glare times where drivers can be blinded by the sun and unable to see low-profile pedestrians (and cyclists).

Drivers Aren’t Always at Fault

No doubt many pedestrian-vehicle accidents happen because drivers have not trained themselves to look for pedestrians. However, in New Mexico, especially, pedestrians often contribute to accidents because of their own negligence.

In a report by KOB News earlier this year[1], pedestrian deaths were up across the state. Many of these accidents happen because pedestrians are not where drivers expect them or look for them. Pedestrians often make their own crossings and dodge and weave through traffic. An APD spokesperson asserted that many pedestrian deaths could have been avoided if the individual(s) used crosswalks.

Intoxication also contributes to pedestrian fatalities. In New Mexico, in more than 50% of pedestrian accidents, the pedestrian has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher—that’s more than the national average of about 33%.[2]

What Victims of Pedestrian Accidents Should Do

If you are the victim of a pedestrian-vehicle accident, do not try to determine liability on your own and do not try to negotiate with insurance companies alone. Get the help you need from Hinkle Law Offices.

We have been helping accident victims get the justice they deserve for more than 25 years. Our personal injury attorneys provide personal attention to your case and aggressive representation to fight for all the compensation you may be entitled to.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

[1] Jaceks, E. (27 Apr. 2018). Pedestrian fatalities up across the state. KOB4.

[2] Uyttebrouck, O. (3 Jun. 2016). New Mexico is no. 1 in pedestrian deaths. Albuquerque Journal.