What Are the Legal Rules for Pedestrians in Florida?

When a personal injury case involves a pedestrian accident, it can be easy to see the situation as some sort of David and Goliath match-up. If the car or truck struck the pedestrian, the pedestrian probably has a case for compensation due to the driver’s fault, right? Not necessarily.

Pedestrians have a responsibility to follow Florida traffic and roadway laws that is equal to the responsibility of drivers. To ensure a strong personal injury case, you may need to demonstrate that, as a pedestrian, you followed pedestrian safety guidelines and Florida traffic laws and did not put yourself in harm’s way through your own actions or negligence.

To understand what types of rules you must follow when walking as a pedestrian on or near Florida roadways, consider the guide to Florida pedestrian laws below.

Sidewalk Use Is Compulsory

Under Florida law, pedestrians must use the sidewalk whenever one is present. That means if you are in an area where there are sidewalks, it is not legal to walk on the street unless you are doing so to cross over. Even then, you must follow the rules for crossing the road, which are detailed below.

The law does allow for some practical exceptions to this rule. If you come upon an area where the sidewalk is blocked due to construction or another obstacle, you can carefully move around that area, including walking on the street if necessary.

What to Do if Sidewalks Aren’t Present

The absence of sidewalks doesn’t mean pedestrians are allowed to take to the streets. Florida law is clear that pedestrians should keep to the side of the road, walking on the shoulder whenever possible. The same exceptions apply here; if the shoulder or side of the road is blocked or unsafe, pedestrians may carefully walk in the street following all common-sense safety precautions.

Pedestrians Must Follow Traffic Signals

Pedestrians have to follow traffic signs and signals. For those walking in a city or town, this means paying attention to crosswalk signs and signals. In other areas, pedestrians should pay attention to traffic lights. For example, you shouldn’t cross an intersection when the traffic light is red. Even though you aren’t in the vehicle lane of travel, a red light for your crossing point indicates that traffic may be crossing the road in front of you.

You Can’t Just Run Into Traffic

It may seem like common sense — and you might think it’s silly that the law even mentions it — but you legally can’t run or dart into the street. If a pedestrian runs into the street without taking the proper precautions and following the law when crossing the road, they put themselves unnecessarily at risk.

Pedestrians and Motorists Must Follow Rules at Crosswalks

Both pedestrians and drivers must follow rules at crosswalks. The rules differ slightly depending on how the crosswalk is structured, but here are a few brief guidelines:

  • When the crosswalk is managed by a walk/do not walk sign, pedestrians have the right-of-way when the walk sign is lit up. That means drivers must stop and allow pedestrians to cross if the sign is lit up and a pedestrian is in the crosswalk or about to enter the crosswalk.
  • When the crosswalk is managed by a walk/do not walk sign, the pedestrian is not allowed to enter the crosswalk unless the walk sign is indicated.
  • Even when the walk sign is indicated, pedestrians must yield to vehicles already in the crosswalk. So, if the walk sign comes on but a car has already entered the area of the crosswalk, a pedestrian must wait for the vehicle to clear the crosswalk before crossing over.
  • If there isn’t a walk/do not walk sign, pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk. The only exception is when there is an option to take a nearby bridge or subway over or under the road. In these cases, pedestrians are required to take the safer option and they do not have the right-of-way.

It’s common to need to cross the street when no crosswalk is present, especially in suburban or rural areas. When this is the case, pedestrians must not dally in the road. They are required to take the quickest way across, which is typically a straight, perpendicular line.

In most cases, you should never cross an entire intersection on a diagonal. Instead, you should first cross one street and then another to get to the corner you need to get to. The only exception to this rule is when a diagonal crosswalk or other infrastructure is in place to allow this type of crossing.

Traffic Directions From Law Enforcement Officers

There are times when signals or directions from a law enforcement officer override other traffic signals and laws. For example, a police officer may be conducting traffic at an intersection that has lost power or in the aftermath of an accident. In these cases, pedestrians are required to attend to the officer’s directions.

How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help With a Pedestrian Accident Case?

If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, the details of your case matter greatly to the potential outcome if you seek compensation for injuries or other losses. A personal injury attorney can help you understand your options and how you might make a case for compensation.

Reach out to Jiles Law, P.A., today at 863-356-0941 to schedule a consultation. We’ll review your case with you and help you understand what options you have moving forward.