How Can a Thorough Understanding of Florida State Laws Help Prevent Pedestrian Accidents?
With Florida’s beautiful walking weather and the influx of tourists for various events and attractions, it’s commonplace for drivers to encounter pedestrians on the roadways, particularly in urban areas. In order to keep everyone safe and help traffic move efficiently, it’s important for drivers and pedestrians alike to understand the state’s laws regarding crosswalks and the rights of those traveling by foot. Failure to follow these rules can result in hefty fines for drivers and, in the worst cases, could leave a pedestrian with life-threatening injuries. A helpful pedestrian accident attorney can explain what you need to know about Florida’s crosswalk laws so you can walk or drive safely.
What Rights and Responsibilities Do Pedestrians Have When Crossing at a Florida Crosswalk?
Florida statute §316.130 describes state traffic regulations for pedestrians. Pedestrians always have the right of way when crossing at a marked crosswalk. Drivers must stop their vehicles and yield to pedestrians within the crosswalk in their traffic lane. Yielding is also required if the pedestrian is close enough to entering the crosswalk on the driver’s half of the roadway that continuing to drive could place the walker in danger.
Pedestrians also need to exercise common sense when crossing at a crosswalk. They should obey any signals that are present. They cannot cross an intersection diagonally and must stay within the crosswalk. If the crosswalk has no signals, they should avoid stepping into traffic if a vehicle is approaching. Of course, running or darting into traffic in a way that would prevent an oncoming car from stopping in time to avoid a collision is prohibited. The law also forbids pedestrians from stopping or standing in a crosswalk to solicit rides or employment from vehicles.
Is a Driver Required to Wait for a Pedestrian to Fully Exit the Crosswalk?
Florida law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians within the crosswalk on their half of the road. Essentially, if the pedestrian is entering the crosswalk from the sidewalk on the driver’s half of the road, they must wait until the pedestrian is safely onto the other half of the road before they can proceed. If the pedestrian enters from the opposite sidewalk, a driver must prepare to yield as soon as they walk close enough to their half of the road that they could be in danger of a collision. The driver must then remain stopped until the pedestrian has fully exited the crosswalk. Drivers are also prohibited from overtaking another vehicle stopped at a crosswalk because it could endanger pedestrians.
While state law provides detailed information on how drivers should respond to pedestrians in crosswalks, it also gives a general guideline for keeping walkers safe. Namely, drivers should always exercise due care to prevent a collision with a pedestrian, no matter where they are in the roadway. Vehicle operators are also admonished to give extra consideration and space to children and individuals who are incapacitated or visibly confused.
Is It Illegal for Pedestrians to Cross Mid-block in Florida?
The legality of crossing mid-block depends on the locale where it is occurring. Florida statute §316.130(11) states that pedestrians cannot cross anywhere but at a marked crosswalk between adjacent intersections where traffic control signals are in operation.
However, if there are no traffic control signals at the intersections, it is legal to cross mid-block. When crossing outside a crosswalk, the pedestrian must exercise caution and yield the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles. They must also cross at a right angle to the curb or by the shortest route between the two curbs.
What Penalties Can Drivers Face if They Do Not Stop for a Pedestrian Who is Legally Crossing the Street?
Drivers need to stay aware of the presence of crosswalks and pedestrians, especially in busy urban or residential areas. Crosswalks will be marked with a yellow sign and may or may not be placed in conjunction with a stop sign or traffic light. Additionally, pedestrians may be crossing at other points along the street if it is legal to do so.
If a driver fails to properly yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk on their half of the road, they may be subject to a warning or a moving violation from law enforcement personnel. A fine of at least $164 and three points on their license is the typical punishment for this type of noncriminal traffic infraction. However, if a driver strikes a pedestrian who is legally crossing the street, they can face criminal charges, such as reckless driving. The penalties for hitting a pedestrian may increase if other factors are involved, including driving under the influence, driving while distracted, or leaving the scene after the accident (hit-and-run).
Drivers who have hit a pedestrian could also be subject to a civil lawsuit. Injured victims may seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress caused by the accident. If the driver’s actions were particularly egregious, such as intentionally hitting an individual in a crosswalk, the court has the option to award punitive damages to the victim or their family.
How Can a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Assist You?
Drivers are responsible for driving safely around pedestrians to protect them from harm. Unfortunately, some drivers do not take this responsibility seriously, and pedestrians can end up severely hurt, even if they follow all the rules and cross the road properly. A pedestrian accident lawyer can help you hold the responsible party liable so that you can work toward recovery without financial stressors like medical bills or lost wages keeping you back. If you’ve been injured in a pedestrian accident while legally crossing the road, contact Galimidi Law today at 305-692-0125 to schedule a free consultation and learn about your legal rights.