I was walking in downtown Salt Lake City this week and noticed something that only barely registers in my mind. Right before you enter an intersection as a pedestrian from a cross-walk, on the ground the words “LOOK” are spray painted in big white letters. Arrows point to the right and left warning to pedestrians to look out for oncoming cars before entering the intersection.
Busy pedestrians and runners might never give this spray-painted sign on the ground a second thought, but in fact, they are worth your notice for several reasons:
- First is the very obvious reason: it is important to look out for cars to avoid being hit. Many times drivers are not paying attention to pedestrians or are not expecting pedestrians to be crossing where they are driving. So these signs are an additional safety warning.
- Second, the instructions on the ground are instructions for you as a pedestrian on how to proceed through the intersection. They are as valid as a stop light. The law considers them essentially the same thing – i.e. a traffic control mechanism. If you do not look both ways before crossing the intersection, you are technically breaking the law.
- Third, if you are ever hurt by another car as you walk through a cross-walk at an intersection, an insurance company will look for every reason to blame you for what happened. One way will be to blame you for not complying with the big, white, capital lettering on the edges of the intersection instructing you to look out for inattentive cars. It’s not fair, but it’s what they do.
As summer approaches, more families, children, and bikers are out on the sidewalks and trying to cross intersections through the cross-walks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard stories that while a driver is waiting to turn right at an intersection, and looking to his/her left waiting for traffic to clear, that he/she hits or comes close to hitting a pedestrian to their right that wasn’t there earlier.
As a driver, always check for pedestrians, because you can ruin their lives if you forget to look for them.
As a pedestrian, always be cautious. Having the right of way in an intersection doesn’t give you an invisible shield of protection.
If you or someone you know was hurt as a pedestrian on a roadway, please call us. We will provide you with a free consultation about your options. Not all cases require litigation and not every case will go to court, but we can give you our honest thoughts on your case so you can decide for yourself what works for you and your family.