Walking in areas without sidewalks can be risky because the lack of paved pedestrian paths can put you at risk of being struck by oncoming vehicles. While this situation isn’t ideal, sometimes it’s the only option, especially in rural areas.

To navigate your journey safely, heighten your awareness, make intelligent decisions, and take preventive measures. These measures can range from choosing your route with extra care, dressing and moving to ensure your visibility to oncoming traffic, and understanding local traffic rules and regulations. To help you stay safe as a pedestrian in areas without sidewalks, follow these tips:

Recognize Other Risk Factors

Safety in areas without sidewalks begins with understanding the risks involved. Roads without sidewalks often mean sharing space with vehicles, exposing yourself to the risk of a collision. Distracted or speeding drivers and poor visibility at night further increase these risks.

Nighttime darkness makes it difficult for drivers to see clearly, judge distances, identify colors, and be aware of their surroundings. When other vehicles are around, the bright headlights may temporarily blind drivers, preventing them from seeing pedestrians and causing fatal accidents. 77% of fatal pedestrian accidents occur at night.

Walk Facing Oncoming Traffic

You should always face oncoming traffic when walking along the side of a road without a sidewalk. This lets you see vehicles as they approach and react in time if the driver doesn’t see you.

Stay Visible

Ensuring drivers can see you from a distance is crucial to keeping you safe while walking. During daylight hours, wear bright-colored clothing. Reflective vests, wristbands, and light-emitting devices can help drivers see you at night or in low-light conditions.

Don’t Be Distracted

Avoid wearing earbuds and smartphones that may interfere with your ability to hear and see potential dangers. If you have to make a phone call or listen to music, use one earbud so you can still hear what’s happening around you.

Stay Sober

If you have consumed alcohol or drugs, you should avoid walking along roads with busy traffic and instead call a sober ride home. These substances can impair your decision-making ability and balance, potentially causing you to mistime crossing the street or fall into the road and into traffic.

Cross the Road Safely

Cross only at marked crosswalks where drivers expect to see pedestrians. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing and wait until they stop entirely before stepping in front of any vehicles.

If a marked crosswalk isn’t available, find the most visible spot to cross and do so quickly but cautiously. Look left, then right, and look left again before crossing. Step onto the shoulder or into the grass if a vehicle is approaching quickly or the road is narrow.

Other Rules of the Road to Follow

  • Obey traffic signals and signs
  • Yield to vehicles when not at intersections or outside of a crosswalk
  • Avoid darting onto the street between parked cars and other obstructions
  • Yield to emergency vehicles that are using an audible or flashing signal
  • Do not walk along the main portion of a highway unless in an emergency

What Should I Do if My Rights as a Pedestrian are Violated?

If you believe your rights as a pedestrian have been violated and you’ve been injured as a result, here are some steps you can take to address the situation:

  • Contact 911: If you have sustained injuries, you can request emergency medical responders to evaluate and treat your injuries. This will also summon law enforcement to investigate, take statements, and produce an accident report.
  • Document the accident: Take pictures of the accident scene, including all involved vehicles, your injuries, the spot where the incident occurred, and any relevant traffic signals. If there are any witnesses, ask for their contact information as well.
  • Consult a lawyer: If you sustained severe injuries, it may be best to consult with a South Carolina pedestrian lawyer, as insurance may fight you on paying out on your claim. Your lawyer can help you understand your rights and advise you about legal options.

How Our Attorneys Can Help

Even if you take safety precautions while walking on a road, you may be dealing with serious injuries that result in medical bills and lost wages. At Joye Law Firm, we can handle your case while you focus on your recovery. Our pedestrian accident attorneys can provide the answers you need to get started in a free, no-obligation consultation.

Contact our law firm today to learn how we can assist you with your accident claim.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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