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9253 Mosby Street,| Suite 100 | Manassas, VA 20110

Reviewing Virginia's pedestrian right-of-way laws

When cars collide with pedestrians in Manassas, it is not difficult to guess who gets the worst of it. Should such an accident occur on a sidewalk, it may also not be difficult to guess who is at fault. Yet when pedestrians enter the roadway, the question of liability becomes somewhat murkier. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that as recently as 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed and another 66,000 were injured after being struck by cars. Many of those accidents undoubtedly occurred on roads, where many may assume that cars have the right-of-way. Yet is that true? 

According to the Code of Virginia, the answer to that questions depends on the circumstances of the accident. Pedestrians should not attempt to enter the roadway at the middle of the road where there is not a clearly marked crosswalk. While common sense might tell a driver to stop to avoid hitting a pedestrian anywhere on the road, a pedestrian may not be able to blame a driver for not stopping for him or her if he or she is not in a crosswalk, as there are no visible signs to indicate pedestrians might be in the road at such locations. 

However, per state law, pedestrians are always afforded the right-of-way in any of the following locations: 

  • In a clearly marked crosswalk
  • In a crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent crosswalk
  • At any intersection where the approaching maximum speed limit from all directions is less than 35 miles per hour. 

A driver must also yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing a roadway that he or she is attempting to turn on to. 

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