Pedestrian Rules of the Road in Alabama

Most drivers are aware of the majority of rules that govern operation of motor vehicles on a public roadway.  These rules are set forth in Alabama Code § 32-5A-1 though § 32-5A-330.  Although these rules primarily concern operation of vehicles, they also contain provisions directing proper pedestrian use of roadways and intersections.

Pedestrian controlThe principle rule for pedestrians requires that they follow the traffic control devices that regulate motor vehicle traffic unless otherwise directed by a specific pedestrian control sign such as the commonly used walk/don’t walk devices.  Alabama Code § 32-5A-32 and §32-5A-210.  Whenever there are special pedestrian control signals at an intersection, pedestrians may proceed across the roadway as directed and shall have the right of way and all motor vehicles must yield to the pedestrian.   Alabama Code § 32-5A-33.

CrosswalkWhen traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation, drivers of motor vehicles must yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk. If a pedestrian is crossing a roadway at any point other than an intersection or a marked crosswalk, then the pedestrian shall yield to vehicles on the roadway.  If there are adjacent intersections where traffic control devices are in use, it is unlawful to cross the roadway except at a marked crosswalk.  Alabama Code § 32-5A-212.  This would be the case in the typical “jaywalking” situation where pedestrians attempt to cross a roadway in the middle of the block.  It is also against the law for pedestrians to attempt to cross an intersection diagonally.  Alabama Code § 32-5A-212.

In most situations, pedestrians should avoid walking on the roadway.  In fact, where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for pedestrians to walk on or on the side of the roadway. Alabama Code § 32-5A-215. Drivers of motor vehicles must yield to any pedestrians on a sidewalk. Alabama Code § 32-5A-218.   If a sidewalk is not available and the roadway has shoulder, then pedestrians shall walk on the shoulder as far away from traffic as possible.  If there are no sidewalks or shoulder available, pedestrians should walk as close to the outside edge of the roadway as possible on the left side of the roadway facing oncoming traffic.  Alabama Code § 32-5A-215.

It is against the law for a pedestrian under the influence of alcohol or drugs to walk on a roadway.  Alabama Code § 32-5A-221.  However, violation of this law is not a moving violation related to the operation of a motor vehicle so a conviction under this section will not impact a person’s driving record.  Ex parte Wright, 586 So. 2d 901 (Ala. 1989).

Pedestrians have the right to assume that motor vehicles on the roadway will obey the traffic laws.  Nevertheless, pedestrians should always keep a lookout when walking on or around roadways and be aware of the traffic that is nearby.

Injuries to pedestrians can often be severe and the facts must be carefully investigated so that responsibility can be determined.  Many times, drivers and insurance companies blame pedestrians for causing an incident.  It is critically important to complete a thorough investigation of the scene as soon as possible including taking pictures, talking with witnesses and determine if there is video of the incident available from security cameras or other surveillance devices.

If you have questions about an injury while using the roadway or sidewalks as a pedestrian, our attorneys at Siniard, Timberlake & League, P.C., can help you determine who is responsible for your injuries and whether you will likely be successful in presenting your claim.  We are also able to help accumulate the necessary evidence and advise you about the defenses to your claim.