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Who has the right of way at intersections: cars or pedestrians?

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | Car Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents |

When a pedestrian and motorist approach each other at an intersection, things can get confusing. Both want to cross the street, but who gets to do so first? While both sides may believe they have the right of way at an intersection, generally only one party does according to Illinois law.

Who has the right of way?

Illinois law states that pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks without operational traffic control signals. Pedestrians also have the right of way at intersections with stop signs and at intersections with plainly marked crosswalks. However, pedestrians must follow traffic control signals, and cannot dart out into traffic. Pedestrians cannot cross an intersection diagonally.

Motorists have the right of way when a pedestrian is trying to cross the road anywhere other than a marked crosswalk. This rule applies even when pedestrians are using pedestrian tunnels or overhead pedestrian crossings.

Even when motorists have the right of way, they must exercise due care. This means they should take all actions to avoid striking a pedestrian. If they are in danger of striking a pedestrian, they should honk their horn. Motorists must take care when approaching children, obviously confused pedestrians or drunk pedestrians, as these people may not be able to appreciate the safety of their surroundings.

Consequences for violating the right-of-way of a pedestrian

Pedestrians must take care of their own safety. But there are times when a motorist violates the pedestrian’s right of way and strikes the pedestrian, causing injury. Motorists who find themselves in such a situation can be held responsible for the collision via a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence.

To be found negligent in a pedestrian accident case, it must be shown that the motorist had a duty of care towards the pedestrian, violated that duty by striking the pedestrian and the violation of duty more likely than not caused the pedestrian’s injuries.

Lawsuits are serious business, whether you are a motorist or a pedestrian. With so much at stake, it is important for both sides to understand what their legal obligations are, and how they might be held responsible if they fail to meet these obligations.