Pedestrian Safety Laws in Utah

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Pedestrian Safety Laws in Utah

By Steven Jensen
May 19, 2023
Pedestrian safety laws in Utah

As gasoline prices fluctuate and cities build more infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, more people are walking or biking for work, school, and leisure than ever before.

Unfortunately, this also means an increase in accidents involving pedestrians when they are walking somewhere or trying to cross the street.

Below, we go over some of the basic laws that apply to pedestrians and drivers in Utah and what you can do if you or a loved one were a pedestrian involved in an accident while crossing the roadway or using a crosswalk.

Proven Utah Pedestrian Accident Attorney Ready to Assist You

If you or a family member were struck by a vehicle while crossing the street or when walking at an intersection, our Utah pedestrian accident lawyer could help.

You may be eligible to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other substantial damages you incurred due to a pedestrian accident caused by a negligent driver.

Here are some examples of possible pedestrian accidents:

  • A motorist ignores a pedestrian with the right of way in a crosswalk and hits them, resulting in serious injuries.
  • A motorist ignores a school speed limit sign, striking a child in the crosswalk and killing them.
  • A pedestrian crosses the roadway illegally when a crosswalk is available, causing injuries and vehicle damage to the driver, who swerves to miss them and hits a telephone pole.
  • A pedestrian who witnessed a car accident darts out into traffic to try to help, ignoring an emergency vehicle’s right of way.
  • A pedestrian is forced to cross outside a designated crosswalk due to roadway construction and is hit by a motorist who didn’t know the crosswalk was out of order.
  • A motorist rear-ends the other vehicle in front of them that is stopped at a crosswalk for pedestrians who have the right of way.

In Utah, there are many cases where both a pedestrian and the driver of the other vehicle share responsibility for the accident, especially when a pedestrian fails to use a functioning crosswalk.

Utah Driver Laws With Regard to Pedestrians

Compared to other states with stricter laws on motorists than pedestrians, Utah balances the responsibility more equally between the two. Here’s a quick look at the laws for drivers:

Duty To Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalks

Duty to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks

Motorists have the right of way until pedestrians are in a marked crosswalk on the same half of the roadway or the opposite half but close enough to traffic to cause an immediate hazard.

This means that drivers must yield to the pedestrian’s right of way and come to a complete stop when people are walking anywhere in a crosswalk besidesthe far end of the crossing.

The exception to this is school crosswalks. If there is anyone walking anywhere within the crosswalk, even if they are located at the far end, away from any vehicle approaching.

Prohibition of Passing a Vehicle Stopped at a Crosswalk

Prohibition of passing a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk

Drivers also may not go around or try to pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Both vehicles must yield the right of way of the people crossing the street using a designated crossing.

Laws for Pedestrians in Utah

Not only do drivers have certain responsibilities when it comes to navigating intersections where there is a pedestrian crossing, but pedestrians also have laws they must follow when walking on the roadway.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Walking or running on the sidewalk, unless one is not available;
  • Walking or running as far from traffic as possible on roads that only have a shoulder;
  • Only crossing an intersection diagonally if specifically instructed to do so by a traffic signal;
  • Yielding to traffic when crossing the road anywhere other than in a marked or unmarked crosswalk; and
  • Yielding to the right of way of emergency vehicles with warning lights operating.

Pedestrians are also prohibited from walking or running into traffic, creating an immediate hazard to nearby motorists. And while not mandatory, it’s advised that pedestrians use the left side of the roadway to see oncoming traffic.

Crosswalk Laws for Pedestrians

There are also crosswalk-specific laws that pedestrians must abide by, like:

  • Using a marked crosswalk to cross the road unless one is not available;
  • Using an unmarked crosswalk if there’s no access to a marked one; and
  • Only crossing within a marked crosswalk between adjacent intersections where traffic control signals are in working order.

Use of Crosswalks and Pedestrian Bridges

As mentioned above, it’s mandatory for pedestrians to use sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian bridges where available in Utah. If there’s a crosswalk that can be safely used and a pedestrian chooses not to, they could be charged with jaywalking.

Jaywalking Laws for Pedestrians

Jaywalking laws for pedestrian

Jaywalking is a common albeit technically illegal activity that most pedestrians occasionally engage in. Here are a few things to know and how to avoid being charged.

Definition of Jaywalking

Jaywalking is when a pedestrian crosses the roadway somewhere other than a designated crosswalk, disregarding any potential vehicle approaching.

For example, if a pedestrian crosses an intersection because it looks clear both ways before the signal is given for them to walk, this would be considered jaywalking.

Penalties for Jaywalking

Although charges for jaywalking are uncommon, there may be situations in which law enforcement feels it necessary to cite a citizen for failure to use the appropriate crosswalks or pedestrian bridges.

If charged with jaywalking, citizens could be penalized with a $750 fine or 75 hours of community service.

Salt Lake City is stricter on jaywalking than most jurisdictions and has its own set of laws similar to state statutes regarding when and where pedestrians are legally allowed to cross the street.

Exceptions To Jaywalking Laws

It’s important to note that jaywalking laws only apply when designated crosswalks are available for pedestrians to cross the roadway.

If no crosswalk can be used, it’s up to the pedestrian to yield the right of way to motorists and cross when no cars are coming.

Traffic Signal Laws for Drivers and Pedestrians

Traffic signal laws for drivers and pedestrian

Now that you have an idea of the basic laws that everyone using a public roadway must abide by, it’s important to understand how traffic signals are used by pedestrians when crossing the street. Here’s what to know.

Duty To Obey Traffic Signals

Both drivers and pedestrians have a duty to obey traffic control signals at an intersection.

For example, drivers must come to a complete stop at a red light, while pedestrians are prohibited from trying to cross when there’s a vehicle approaching.

Pedestrian Signals

At any intersection in Salt Lake City and the rest of Utah state, pedestrians may only cross in front of a stopped vehicle when traffic control signals display the “walk” sign.

This is also the safest bet — even when all the cars are stopped, and it seems okay to cross, it’s impossible to know what the signals on the opposite half of the road are telling drivers to do.

Special Pedestrian Crossing Signals

As mentioned above, special signals are used at intersections to direct pedestrians when and where to walk.

They are common in metropolitan locations like Salt Lake City, with more people walking from place to place than in smaller rural areas.

A pedestrian can request to cross at an intersection by pushing a button on the signal pole labeled with the direction they want to walk.

Then, the signal will flash along with the time the pedestrian has to make it through the crosswalk.

Penalties for Violating Pedestrian Safety Laws in Utah

Both pedestrians and vehicle drivers can receive citations for violating pedestrian safety laws depending on the circumstances of the situation.

Here are just a few examples of legal violations either a driver or pedestrian could be charged with and the penalties for each:

  • Pedestrians who don’t use crosswalks when they are available can only be charged with jaywalking. Most of the time, police officers don’t bother to cite people who do this. Still, it’s important to know that if an officer decides to, you could be subject to the penalty for all infractions in Utah — a $750 fine or 75 hours of mandatory community service.
  • Drivers who neglect to move their vehicle when an emergency vehicle needs to pass may be cited with an infraction. If a firetruck, ambulance, or police vehicle has its warning lights operating and a driver fails to yield the right of way, they could receive an infraction citation. They are also required to complete a four-hour, in-person defensive driving course.
  • Drivers who fail to obey a school speed limit sign may be charged with a class C misdemeanor. Penalties range between $50 to $125 depending on how fast the driver was going over the posted speed limit. If a driver speeds through any school crosswalks or otherwise fails to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a qualifying crosswalk, they could face both the misdemeanor charge and one or more citations.

Utah Pedestrian Safety Tips

Even though you have the right of way in a crosswalk, it can be nerve-wracking to actually take that first step in front of a stopped vehicle.

Here are some helpful pedestrian safety tips to use next time you’re walking alongside traffic or going through a pedestrian crossing:

  • Always cross the street at a marked crosswalk. A vehicle approaching an unmarked crosswalk has a higher risk of being struck.
  • Don’t assume that a car will reach a complete stop for you, even if you have the right of way. It’s always better to walk cautiously and be aware of vehicles approaching who may be trying to pass you.
  • Try to make eye contact with the driver of a vehicle before crossing the roadway. Ideally, the driver will acknowledge that they see you in some way, such as giving you a nod to go ahead and walk through the crosswalk.
  • Let cars pass you on the left. Whichever way you go, walking with traffic on your left is a good idea. You can also walk against traffic so drivers are more likely to see you and vice versa.

Schedule an Initial Consultation With Our Utah Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Today

Schedule an initial consultation

Get legal help after an accident caused by a driver violating your right of way when they were required to yield to pedestrians. You may be eligible for compensation.

Contact the veteran Salt Lake City personal injury lawyers at Parker & McConkie today for a free initial consultation to discuss your pedestrian accident case by calling (801) 980-9708.

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Schedule a Free Consultation Now By Contacting Our Team at (801) 980-9708