“Pedestrians have the right of way” is a rule that we are all taught when obtaining our driver’s license in Charleston, South Carolina, but when we are actually driving, there are instances in which we wonder, “Do pedestrians really have the right of way right now?” After all, if a pedestrian were to wander out into the middle of the intersection while cars are streaming past, would it be their fault if they were hit, or would it still be the driver’s fault? Or if a pedestrian walks against a no-walking signal, and an oncoming car does not see them until it is too late, would the driver be at fault then?

Pedestrians – or people traveling by foot – use Charleston’s roadways and sidewalks just as frequently, if not more so, than the average motorist does. Because of this, there are many rules regulating what vehicles and pedestrians alike must and must not do in order to keep pedestrians safe. Furthermore, it is urged upon every motorist in Charleston to be on the lookout for pedestrians at all times, and to understand that even one wrong maneuver or lapse in attention can result in a pedestrian accident or fatality.

Charleston’s Rules for Vehicles

Each Charleston driver has an implied duty to protect pedestrians from harm, which they must exercise whenever they are in the vicinity of pedestrians or a place in which pedestrians are likely to be. The laws governing speed, for instance, require not only that drivers do the speed limit through pedestrian-populated areas, but that they proceed at a speed that is “reasonable and prudent under the conditions,” and to “control their speed to avoid colliding with a pedestrian.” Oftentimes, this means traveling under the speed limit through busy intersections, on busy streets, and during busy times of day.

Furthermore, because many Charleston pedestrian accidents occur at intersections, South Carolina law requires that drivers approach intersections at an appropriate reduced speed, that turn signals be activated at least 100 yards in advance of an intersection, and that when in an area of the city in which there are numerous pedestrians, to always be on the lookout for a pedestrian who is walking a dog and/or raising a cane.

Furthermore, according to Section 56 5 3230 of South Carolina Pedestrian Law“Notwithstanding other provisions of any local ordinance, 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.”

Rules and Responsibilities of Charleston Pedestrians

According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 56, Chapter 5, pedestrians have just as much obligation to prevent Charleston pedestrian accidents as drivers of motor vehicles do. With that in mind, pedestrians must:

  • Obey traffic control devices and traffic regulations (Section 56 5 3110);
  • May only cross in a designated crosswalk (Section 56 5 3120);
  • Shall stay in a place of safety when a vehicle is close enough to cause a hazard (Section 56 5 3130);
  • Shall use the right half of the crosswalk (Section 56 5 3140);
  • Shall yield to any oncoming vehicles if they are crossing the street outside of a crosswalk (Section 56 5 3150);
  • Shall never cross a road diagonally, unless otherwise directed to do so by traffic signals and/or road signs (Section 56 5 3150);
  • Shall never walk on the roadway when a sidewalk is available (Section 56 5 3160);
  • Shall never walk on a highway, except when necessary, and only then on the shoulder (Section 56 5 3160);
  • Shall walk only on the left side of the roadway if forced to walk along a highway (Section 56 5 3160);
  • Shall yield the right of way to all vehicles if walking along a highway (Section 56 5 3160);
  • Shall never walk along a freeway unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer, or if the purpose of doing so is for roadwork, to perform a public works or official duty, or in the event of an accident (Section 56 5 3170);
  • Shall never stand on a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride, soliciting employment, or soliciting the watching and/or guarding of a vehicle (Section 56 5 3180);
  • Must never raise a cane unless totally or partially blind (Section 56 5 3190);
  • Shall yield the right of way to emergency vehicles immediately when it is safe to do so (Section 56 5 3260);
  • Shall agree to render themselves a hazard when drug or incapacitated, and so shall not walk along a sidewalk or roadway in such conditions (Section 56 5 3270); and
  • Shall never pass over, under, around, or through any barrier, gate, or bridge at a railroad crossing when the signal has been given or is in the process of being given (Section 56 5 3280).

Pedestrian Rights in Charleston, SC

While pedestrians have many responsibilities in Charleston, SC, they also have a significant number of rights. A Charleston pedestrian’s rights include:

  • The right to finish crossing the roadway or to cross the roadway if they are close to approaching the intersection when traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation (Section 56 5 3130);
  • The right to protection from all vehicles approaching the intersection, and not just the vehicle at the front of the line at the intersection (Section 56 5 3130);
  • The right to complete safety from vehicles when walking on a sidewalk (Section 56 5 3250); and
  • The right to cross the street or attempt to cross the street at any point – even outside of a crosswalk – if carrying a raised cane or walking stick, and/or when accompanied by a guide dog; however the walking stick must be white in color or white tipped with red (Section 56 5 3200).

Consult a Charleston Personal Injury Attorney

If you were walking along the streets of Charleston and were injured by an oncoming vehicle, you may have the right to a personal injury claim. While Charleston pedestrians have several rules and responsibilities to adhere to, the rights they do have are great, and should a motorist violate those rights and injure a pedestrian, the injured pedestrian may be entitled to significant compensation. If you are the victim of a pedestrian-car accident, the Charleston accident attorneys at Joye Law Firm can help you file a personal injury claim, compile the necessary evidence for proving your case, and achieve a beneficial outcome. To consult with one of our Charleston personal injury lawyers, contact us at (888) 324-3100 or online today.

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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