Is it true that motor vehicles always have to yield the right of way to pedestrians and bicyclists?

As a general rule, motor vehicles have a heightened duty to avoid collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists. According to Florida law (Florida Statutes 316.130(15),  “Every driver (in the State of Florida) of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.”  While, clearly, drivers of motor vehicles have a duty to employ extra caution when encountering pedestrians and bicyclists, that duty, under most circumstances, is not absolute.

Pedestrians and bicyclists, just like motor vehicles, have a duty to obey traffic devices and vehicle laws. To insure their safety, pedestrians and bicyclists should travel in the same direction as traffic flow. When encountering a traffic light that is red, drivers are required to stop before reaching the crosswalk. In the absence of a crosswalk at an intersection, drivers must stop before reaching the intersection. If there is a crosswalk, drivers must allow a pedestrian who has the proper signal to cross the street. If a motor vehicle has a green light, pedestrians and bicyclists should yield the right of way to that vehicle. If a pedestrian or bicyclist is crossing a road at a location other that an intersection, and there is no traffic device directing or restricting traffic, the pedestrian or bicyclist should exercise reasonable control and judgment, and not presume an approaching motor vehicle will yield to them.

If, when encountering a circular traffic light, and the part of that light facing the pedestrian is green, the pedestrian has the right to proceed across a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Motor vehicles facing the circular green light must proceed cautiously straight or make a left or right turn, if permitted and yield (stop or slow down) to any pedestrians in the intersection or crosswalk.

When approaching a green arrow, a vehicle would be allowed to enter the intersection, but must yield the right of way to any pedestrians that may be in a crosswalk. In the event there is a steady yellow light, and a driver is already in the intersection waiting to make a left turn, that driver must yield to pedestrians.

Any visually impaired pedestrian that is guided by a dog or is carrying a white cane in an extended or raised position, has an absolute right of way, motor vehicle drivers must always stop completely in order to avoid injuring such a  pedestrian. If someone is occupying a wheelchair, service animal or other mobility aid crosses a roadway, motor vehicle drivers should always yield the right of way to that person.

Pedestrians and bicyclists should always be aware that even a pedestrian has right-of-way, motor vehicles may not always stop resulting in potential collisions. All too often, drivers become distracted and fail to see a pedestrian or a traffic light, Despite having the right of way, pedestrians should make eye contact with the drivers of any of any vehicle they may encounter before crossing a road to ensure they have been seen.

As illustrated by the above, in most instances, motor vehicles should yield the right of way to pedestrians and bicyclists. Having said that, it is equally clear that pedestrians and bicyclists have a duty to exercise reasonable caution, be aware of their surroundings and do all they can to avoid becoming a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicyclist collision statistic.

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accident, the assistance of an experienced, aggressive attorney is invaluable to protect your rights and insure you get all the benefits you may be entitled to. Dan Newlin & Partners are exactly those types of attorneys, always fighting for everything their clients are entitled to. Their experience of handling over 10,000 personal injury cases, and dealing with most major insurance companies, allows them the ability answer all of your questions in a timely and professional manner and to maximize the value of your case, insuring that you receive all the benefits that you are entitled to. If you have any questions about what rights you may have as a result of being involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian/bicycle accident, or any other typeoif accident, please call Dan Newlin & Partners at (407) 888-8000.