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What You Need to Know About Unmarked Crosswalks

Cars, buses, trucks and cyclists all have the right to operate on roads, as long as they abide by the laws. The same is true of pedestrians, but those on wheels don’t often treat those on foot with the same respect that they give to others. Many drivers believe that pedestrians are limited to specific road crossing points. This is not always true, as is the case in an area using unmarked crosswalks. Learn more about this sometimes-confusing pedestrian crossing point, and how you can stay on the right side of the law as a driver and a pedestrian.

What Are Crosswalks

Road builders and city planners construct set crossing points for pedestrians and any other road traffic to interface safely, called crosswalks. Legally, the crosswalk is an extension of the sidewalk in designated areas. In most cases, city planners make crosswalks obvious to both walkers and drivers. Some have lights restricting access for any type of vehicle or pedestrian. The goal of these crossing points is simple: allow quick, unimpeded crossing opportunities for those on foot to safely cross a road where there is vehicular traffic.

What Are Unmarked Crosswalks

Though planners want to make these demarcations clear, not all of them are. Generally, pedestrians have permission to cross a road at any intersection, unless the law specifically restricts crossing there. Marked crosswalks exist in a controlled location, where traffic signals help control the flow of road and pedestrian traffic. However, not all crosswalks are at controlled locations, nor do they always require markings. While all crosswalks have specific requirements, such as accessibility, the placement of unmarked crosswalks varies from state to state. In most states, roads in residential zones function as unmarked crosswalks, meaning pedestrians can cross the road anywhere.

Pedestrians crossing at such a crosswalk must do so in a way that does not endanger them or the operators of vehicles. They also must yield the right-of-way to road traffic when crossing an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

The Problem with Markings

When considering the two types of crosswalks, one may assume that installing marked crosswalks makes more sense because they are more readily visible to the driver of a vehicle. While drivers may be more aware of a crosswalk at a controlled location like an intersection, they tend to be less aware of crosswalks away from such locations.

Pedestrians, meanwhile, view a marked crosswalk as a safe point to cross and, sometimes, wrongfully assume drivers will yield to them when they cross there. Additionally, many pedestrians and drivers remain uninformed about the unmarked crosswalk, with drivers assuming no one will cross there and pedestrians not realizing where an unmarked crosswalk exists.

The data and statistics on which type of crosswalk is safer remain murky, but what is clear is better understanding of city laws will mean fewer accidents in these crosswalks. Pedestrians and drivers can improve the function and use of both types of crosswalk by reviewing city or state laws on their use and by practicing better awareness when in areas where pedestrians may cross. If you or a loved one were injured in a pedestrian accident, don’t hesitate to call our Oakland Pedestrian Injury Attorneys for a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/hdbk/right_of_way

http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/pedestrian-crossing-50-state-summary.aspx

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/04100/01.cfm

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/04100/04.cfm

http://www.sacdot.com/Pages/Crosswalks.aspx

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