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When do Pedestrians have the Right of Way Crossing a Roadway?

When crossing at an intersection, crossing within a crosswalk, or crossing a roadway without a crosswalk, pedestrians should follow three simple guidelines:


Pedestrians must realize that not all drivers know the rules of the road. They should be aware of their surroundings at all times.


§4511.12(A) of the Ohio Revised Code provides, “[n]o pedestrian . . . shall disobey the instructions of any traffic control device placed in accordance with this chapter.” A traffic control device refers to a sign or signal. Pedestrians should be on the lookout for these devices and be familiar with their meanings.


As children, we are often taught the difference between the WALK and DON’T WALK signals, or conversely, the difference between the walking person and upturned palm symbols. Simply stated, if WALK or a steady walking person is displayed, a pedestrian may start to cross in the direction the signal indicates. When such a signal or symbol is displayed, a pedestrian has the right-of-way. It should be noted, though, that, “[a] pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to vehicles lawfully within an intersection at the time that the walking person signal indication is first shown.” O.R.C. §4511.14(A).

If DON’T WALK or a flashing upturned palm is displayed, a pedestrian may not start to cross in the direction the signal indicates. If a pedestrian starts to cross on a steady walking person symbol, and a DON’T WALK or a flashing upturned palm is displayed as the pedestrian is in the middle of crossing the roadway, they may continue to the far side of the road, unless a traffic control signal directs the pedestrian to a median or other area. If a steady upturned palm is displayed, a pedestrian shall not enter the roadway in the direction the signal indicates.

In addition to this basic rule, Ohio law provides answers to these additional questions:

Q: Who has the right-of-way when no traffic control signal is in place?

A: Pedestrians. O.R.C. §4511.46(A) provides:

When traffic control signals are not in place . . . the driver of a vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar shall yield the right of way . . . to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. (Emphasis added.)

The above rule should also be followed in situations where traffic control signals are not in operation or are not clearly assigning the right-of-way.

Q: Who has the right-of-way when there is no crosswalk?

A: Drivers. O.R.C. §4511.48(A) provides, “[e]very pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles, trackless trolleys, or streetcars upon the roadway.” (Emphasis added.)

Q: Should pedestrians move on the right or left half of a crosswalk?

A: Right. O.R.C. §4511.49(A) provides, “[p]edestrians shall move, whenever practicable, on the right half of crosswalks.” (Emphasis added.)

For more information on pedestrian laws, please see this article from the Ohio Department of Transportation and applicable sections of the Ohio Revised Code which can be found online here. Looking for a Cleveland personal injury attorney who will work for you? Contact the attorneys at NRS by calling 855.GOT.HURT (855.468.4878) or filling out our contact form.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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