As of March 1, 2021, pedestrians who are caught jaywalking in Virginia will no longer be slapped with a ticket. The legislature passed the new rule decriminalizing jaywalking so that law enforcement authorities would have more time to attend to other, more serious offenses.
Does that mean you can now throw caution to the wind and walk where you please? Absolutely not. Pedestrians still need to be careful how they handle themselves because there’s no way to guarantee that drivers are watching for them.
Important safety tips for pedestrians
As the weather continues to improve, more people will be walking around the city streets, strolling through their neighborhoods and walking their dogs. If you plan to be among them, remember these rules:
Stick to sidewalks whenever possible. You’re far safer on a sidewalk than the curb of the road. If you must use the road, make sure that you walk facing traffic and as far to the side as possible.
Use crosswalks with lights whenever they are available. Failing that, cross at an intersection. Jaywalking is dangerous, which is why it was illegal. Drivers either consciously or unconsciously expect to see pedestrians at intersections or crosswalks, not crossing the road in the middle of the block.
Aim for high-visibility to drivers. Try to make eye contact with the driver of any vehicle that’s still approaching as you cross a street. Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective gear at night.
Stay focused. Don’t go for a stroll while you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol because they can make you less observant of traffic. Don’t put both headphones in your ears so you can’t hear approaching traffic.
Finally, remember that drivers can get easily distracted. Don’t assume that a driver will stop for a light or wait to make a turn until you’ve passed by. Make sure that cars have actually stopped before you step into the street.
What to do if you’re hit by a car
If you’ve been hit by a negligent driver while walking, you may be facing a lengthy recovery and a lot of medical bills, lost wages and more. Working with an experienced attorney is the best way to protect your interests.