Pedestrians (persons traveling by foot) use our roadways and sidewalks just as frequently as many drivers do. Whether they are running or jogging for exercise or walking to the grocery store, pedestrians have a right to be out there. Drivers of automobiles should be very careful of pedestrians because the injuries from an accident can be devastating if not fatal. In this article, our personal injury lawyers in Charleston discuss South Carolina’s Pedestrian Safety Rules.
The Rules for Vehicles in South Carolina
The laws on speed require drivers to operate their vehicles at speeds that are “reasonable and prudent under the conditions” and to control their speed “to avoid colliding with a person.” Many auto-pedestrian accidents occur near intersections where pedestrians cross the road. South Carolina law requires that drivers “exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian.” The law also provides that drivers should drive “at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection” and when “special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic.” Also, turn signals must be activated at least one hundred feet before any turn. Many drivers don’t use their turn signals as they should which can result in a pedestrian trying to cross the street when it is not safe.
The South Carolina Driver’s Manual gives further guidance to drivers, noting that “curves, intersections, and pedestrian crosswalks make it necessary to slow down to a reduced speed.” It further states that “it is the driver’s responsibility to be on the lookout and to take every precaution possible not to injure a person on foot.” Additionally, drivers have things to be on the lookout for such as when a pedestrian is walking with a guide dog or raising a cane.
The Rules for Pedestrians in South Carolina
If you’re traveling on foot, you must also exercise care to avoid accidents. You must follow the “walk,” “wait” and “don’t walk” crossing signals. After the signal says “wait” or “don’t walk,” you may not begin to cross, but if you’ve already begun crossing when the signal changes, you may finish crossing to the other side.
Usually, pedestrians must yield the right of way to vehicles. The exception is when the pedestrian is using a crosswalk, and they are actually required to use crosswalks when available. They should walk on the right half of the crosswalk if possible and they can’t cross intersections diagonally.
If a sidewalk is present, pedestrians must stay on the sidewalk when walking down the road, and they have complete right-of-way while on the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is present, the pedestrian must walk on the shoulder. If there is no sidewalk or shoulder, the pedestrian must stay as far to the edge of the road as possible and must walk on the left side of the roadway if the road has two-way traffic.
Pedestrians may not walk down the road if they are impaired by drugs or alcohol to the extent they are a hazard. They must yield the complete right-of-way to emergency vehicles. They can’t cross a drawbridge or railroad crossing if the gates are closed or flashers are activated. They can’t walk on freeways except in certain emergency situations such as walking from their broken-down vehicle to the nearest exit.
There are many other applicable laws when it comes to auto vs. pedestrian accidents, and a personal injury lawyer should review them all when determining who was liable for any accident.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians in South Carolina
To avoid becoming a victim of an auto v. pedestrian accident, here are some important safety tips if you are traveling on foot:
- Try to make any walking trips during the daytime when it is easier to be seen.
- If walking or running at night, wear light-colored or reflective clothing to improve visibility. Also, consider carrying a flashlight.
- Stay on the sidewalk if available. This is normally the safest place for a pedestrian.
- Do not jaywalk. Find a crosswalk or traffic signal and cross there.
- Walk on the left side of the street if possible. By facing traffic, you are better able to make an evasive move and avoid a reckless driver.
- Don’t use headphones. By eliminating your sense of hearing, you are less likely to be able to avoid an accident.
- Don’t talk on the phone, text, or surf the internet on your mobile device. When you are not aware of what is going on around you, you are a bigger risk for an accident.
- When crossing the street, look left, right, and left again.
- Never assume that a car sees you. Let the car pass, and then proceed. Also, never assume that just because a car doesn’t have its turn signal on that it is not about to turn.