Pedestrians don’t always have the right-of-way

File Photo
File Photo

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – We don’t hear a lot about pedestrians being hit by passing vehicles. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve definitely felt those close calls, being on either side of the situation.

But contrary to popular belief, pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way.

For example, you don’t want to walk out between two cars in the middle of the road. Drivers can’t see you, and it’s jaywalking.

You also don’t want to walk across the street when the signal tells you not to.

“If you’re going to cross, it’s best to cross with the signal light at an intersection. Not to jaywalk in the middle of the road. When you’re driving, you’re expecting someone at a corner, not during the middle of the block,” said Chief John Plasse, Terre Haute Police Department.

If you’re a driver, you could have become accustomed to stopping for anyone in a cross walk, thinking it the law.

But that law changed in 2011.

Under those new requirements, the pedestrian only has the right-of-way if the that little white man on the signal sign is also walking.

“Pedestrians, don’t walk out without looking, without checking both ways before you go. Walk with the lights, don’t walk against the lights. Just make sure of your surroundings,” said Chief Plasse.

What about these white lines? There’s no signal light. But this doesn’t give us free rein to waltz in front of a moving vehicle.

“if I’m coming up to that, and I see a student, I always stop. But there’s no state law that says you have to. I do it as a courtesy,” said Chief Plasse.

There is a rule that can sometimes be difficult to remember.

If a driver is turning from a green light, the pedestrian does have permission to walk that street is driving is turning onto.

Not following these rules could have severe repercussions, for both the driver and the pedestrian.

“You have blind spots in vehicles. And you’re going to do a lot of damage to someone in a car,” said Chief Plasse. “It could be a serious injury. They could be killed doing that.”

Turning some simple steps into a nightmare.

According to a street coalition report out this year, in the past decade, more than 600 people were killed while walking. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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