If you’re a driver or pedestrian in the US, it’s important to know that there are complicated and often confusing rules about when you should yield, cross the street, and more. So we’ve created this article to help you fully understand everything from how speed limits work to sidewalks laws.
A recent study found that only 53% of American drivers have ever been taught what they need to know about driving safety by their parents or another adult. And while most people don’t need to go very far in life without violating any traffic laws (drunk driving, speeding), it’s important for drivers and pedestrians alike to be aware of these laws – even if they don’t plan on breaking them like text can be used with a diamond symbol.
1. Right of Way
In the United States, the basic rule for when you should yield to someone else is that you must yield to anyone who has a green light , or a sign or traffic signal saying they have the right of way. This includes pedestrians, whether they’re crossing the street on a green light or on a walk signal. However, if you are turning left and remain stopped at your red light while pedestrians are crossing, you must yield to them.
2. One Way Roads
If you’re on a one-way street and you have the right of way, it’s even more important that you yield to pedestrians. Because they’re legally not supposed to be on a one-way street in the first place.
Bikes can also block traffic – so when they’re sharing the road with cars, cyclists need to yield at busy intersections and whenever turning onto streets or sidewalks. While it’s true that cyclists aren’t supposed to use high visibility clothing or ride in groups, many do anyway – and since they move slowly and don’t have much protection from rear collisions, it’s important for drivers to avoid hitting them.
4. People on the Sidewalk or Crosswalk
If you’re walking or crossing a street with a walk signal , you need to yield to anyone who’s walking too. If you’re traveling inbound on a crosswalk, it is your responsibility to make sure that pedestrians are clear of the path before proceeding. This applies even if they’re not on a walk signal; if they’re simply waiting at an intersection, they have the right of way unless they cross your path.
5. Red Lights
Studies show that more than half of all vehicle-pedestrian crashes occur during intersections – and half of these crashes involve pedestrians who are crossing at red lights. This is a well-known phenomenon – so if you’re driving and see someone walking in front of you at a red light, it’s common courtesy to slow down and make sure that they’re OK.
6. Speed Limits
In most states, the speed limit on major streets – especially highways – is 55 miles per hour, unless otherwise posted. On residential streets, the speed limit is usually 25 miles per hour or lower. If you’re on a highway and have to slow down quickly because of traffic congestion or an accident ahead of you, it’s your responsibility to check for pedestrians (and bicycle riders) ahead who may not be able to slow down as fast as you can.
7. Obeying Traffic Lights
No matter what the speed limit is, there are still traffic lights that you need to respect. Another study showed that most crashes occur at intersections with stop lights – so it’s a good idea to check for pedestrians and cyclists before proceeding.
8. Yielding Ahead of Curves
If you’re driving and see someone coming up quickly on your right side in a curve, make sure they can see you and slow down – even if they’re going slower than you. If you hit them, it’s better for everyone involved if both of you suffer minor injuries rather than one person ending up seriously injured or in the hospital.
9. Parking at Crosswalks
Parking near a crosswalk is prohibited in many states – and with good reason. For instance, if you must park at the side of a street, look for the first driveway before you park. This way, it’s easier for pedestrians to see where they’re supposed to go.
10. Pedestrian Safety Zones
In many states, pedestrian safety zones have special rules – even when there isn’t a crossing guard present to help pedestrians cross safely onto their bus stops or schools. These zones may prohibit parking or driving – and in some cases, they may not even allow bicycles or skateboards.
Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers all need to be aware of the rules of the road – and make sure to follow them at all times. And if you are ever injured in a bike accident or pedestrian hit-and-run , it’s important that you seek compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. Don’t try to deal with the insurance companies on your own – leave it up to us. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages or earning capacity, your physical impairment, as well as a wide range of other factors.