Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right-of-Way in Louisiana?

July 20th, 2020

Pedestrians deaths in 2019 were the highest recorded in the last 30 years, according to data collected by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). And while traffic deaths overall increased only 2% between 2009 and 2019, pedestrian deaths rose by an estimated 60% in the same timeframe.

While these numbers are scary, what they tell us isn’t anything we don’t already know: in car accidents involving pedestrians, the pedestrians are far, far, more likely to be severely injured or killed than the occupants of the vehicle.

And when pedestrians are hit by cars, the driver is often considered at fault. But are drivers always at fault in pedestrian accidents?

The answer is no. Pedestrians typically have the right-of-way, but there are circumstances in which a pedestrian could be considered at fault or partially at fault in a traffic accident.

What Does Louisiana Law Say About Pedestrians?

Louisiana law is especially favorable to pedestrians. Even when pedestrians don’t have the right-of-way, drivers still have a legal responsibility to prevent endangering any and all pedestrians on the road.

What the Law Says Drivers Must Do

  • Drivers must take every precaution to avoid hitting pedestrians, even when they are crossing outside of crosswalks or against the light. This includes using their horns and taking evasive action in all circumstances.
  • Drivers must take extra precautions to look for and avoid hitting children, the intellectually disabled, and any obviously confused or intoxicated people who may be more likely to enter the road outside of a crosswalk.
  • Drivers must always yield to blind people using a white cane or who are accompanied by a guide dog, regardless of where they are crossing the street or what the traffic lights signal.
  • When traffic lights or stop signs are not present or functioning, vehicles must always yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks.

What the Law Says Pedestrians Must Do

  • Pedestrians must yield right-of-way to all vehicles when crossing outside of a crosswalk.
  • It’s illegal for pedestrians to walk on a highway if sidewalks are present as an alternative option. If sidewalks aren’t present, pedestrians should only walk on the shoulder of the road facing against the flow of traffic.
  • Pedestrians can’t cross an interstate highway at any time outside of an emergency.
  • Pedestrians can’t suddenly leave a sidewalk or place of safety, such as a traffic island, and then walk or run in front of a vehicle that is close enough that it is impossible for the vehicle to take evasive accident.

Why Are Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise?

There are several reasons experts believe that pedestrian deaths have been increasing year-over-year for the last decade.

One reason is the increased popularity of light trucks and SUVs. In 2018, light trucks and SUVs accounted for nearly 70% of new vehicle sales. Studies show that pedestrians who are struck by an SUV are twice as likely to be killed as pedestrians struck by cars.

Another reason could be the increase in people using cellphones while driving. In 2018, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists were killed in distracted driving crashes. 

Where and When Are Pedestrians Most at Risk?  

Most pedestrian deaths occur not on highways or in major intersections, but instead on local roads and away from intersections. These accidents are often caused by speeding, distracted, drowsy, or drunk drivers.

Traffic calming may be one method to combat this type of pedestrian accident. Traffic calming involves designing roads specifically to reduce this type of unsafe driving behavior, such as by adding speed bumps, raised medians, diverters, or curb extensions.

Pedestrian deaths are also far more likely to happen at night. Between 2009 and 2019, daytime pedestrian deaths increased by 16% while nighttime pedestrian deaths increased by 67%. When walking at night, it is important to avoid walking along or near roadways whenever possible and to wear reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to drivers.

We Help Injured Pedestrians and Their Families

If you have been severely injured or lost a loved one because of a reckless driver, you need and deserve compensation for your medical expenses and everything else you’ve lost and suffered.

Car accidents are physically painful and emotionally stressful. But when pedestrians are struck by cars, victims often suffer to an even greater degree. In circumstances like these, the last thing you need is an insurance agent trying to deny you compensation for all your expenses resulting from the accident or trying to push blame for your accident onto you.

After a pedestrian accident, contact Dudley DeBosier right away. Our consultations are always free, and our promise to you is that you will pay us nothing unless we win your case.