Pedestrian Law and Legal Definition

Pedestrian is a person traveling on foot; a walker. Almost all states in U.S. have rules of road which specifically describe the rights and duties of pedestrians. These rules provide for the convenient and safe passage for pedestrians on and across all streets and highways, increase levels of walking and pedestrian travel, and reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries.

The following is an example of a State Statute ( New Hampshire) on Pedestrian’s Rights and Duties:

  • A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of any traffic sign or regulation specifically applicable to him, unless otherwise directed by a police officer. Pedestrians shall be subject to traffic and pedestrian control signals unless required by local ordinance to comply strictly with such signals. [RSA 265:34]
  • When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
  • Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.[RSA 265:35]
  • Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway. Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway. Between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by traffic-control devices; and, when authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.[RSA 265:36]
  • Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and shall give an audible signal when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person.[RSA 265:37]
  • Pedestrians shall move, whenever practicable upon the right half of crosswalks.[ RSA 265:38]
  • Where sidewalks are provided it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.. Where a sidewalk is not available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a way shall walk only on a shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway. Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a way shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway, and if on a two-way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway. Any pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.[RSA 265:39]
  • No person shall stand on the travelled portion of a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride, employment, business or contributions from the occupant of any vehicle. No person shall stand on or in proximity to the traveled portion of a street or way for the purpose of soliciting the watching or guarding of any vehicle while parked or about to be parked on a street or way. It shall be lawful for any person to hitchhike or solicit a ride from the occupant of any vehicle upon any road or way, or limited access road and highway provided that the individual is not, when so doing, standing on the paved portion of the road or way. No person shall signal a moving vehicle or stop a vehicle on any public way in order to solicit or sell a ticket of admission to an entertainment or sports event.[RSA 265:40]
  • Whenever a totally or partially blind pedestrian, guided by a dog trained for the purpose or carrying in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red, crosses or attempts to cross a way, the driver of every vehicle approaching the place where such pedestrian is crossing or attempting to cross shall bring his vehicle to a full stop, and before proceeding shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injuring such pedestrian. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to deprive any totally or partially blind person, not carrying such a cane or walking stick or not being guided by a dog trained for the purpose, of the rights and privileges conferred by law upon pedestrians crossing ways.[ RSA 265:41]