Pedestrian Rights and Responsibilities in Idaho
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We might like to think that Ada County (and all of Idaho, for that matter) is just about the most perfect place to live, but in at least one regard there’s room for improvement: Drivers and pedestrians still don’t always share the roads safely. In 2017, that led to five fatal encounters between motor vehicles and people on foot in the county, according to a recent news report.
People sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction and assume that drivers are always the ones at fault. Many times they are, but there can be blame on both sides. Pedestrians, just like drivers, are covered by laws and regulations for safe and appropriate behavior.
There had been some good news in traffic safety in the United States until just a couple of years ago: The overall number of traffic deaths had been trending down since the mid-1990s. That shifted beginning in 2015, however, and highway fatalities have since been up sharply.
The most recent full analysis (using 2015 data) found that pedestrians were even more at risk. That year, 5,376 died in motor vehicle collisions nationwide, up a surprising 9.5 percent in just one year. That jumped even higher in 2016, to 5,987, or nearly one of every six motor vehicle accident fatalities. In 2015, Idaho could boast of having one of the lowest pedestrian death rates in the nation (eight total, less than 4 percent of all vehicle fatalities in the state).
Drivers have obligations under the law when it comes to pedestrians. For instance, they have to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks—even unmarked crosswalks. But pedestrian behavior is also covered by numerous sections of state law.
They’re expected to follow the directions of traffic control devices and to act with caution. They’re advised not to make a hazard of themselves by recklessly stepping off the curb into traffic, and they’re expected to use crosswalks when they exist and should not cross streets at any point they please.
When a sidewalk exists, they’re expected to use it, and when there’s no sidewalk or shoulder, they’re supposed to stay as far to the side of the road as possible. It’s not explicit in state law, but pedestrians are advised to walk against traffic as a safety measure for their own protection. Just as with motor vehicles, they’re expected to get out of the way when emergency vehicles are approaching.
Drinking and driving is never a good idea, but a surprising number of pedestrians in serious crashes are also under the influence. “Walking while drunk” is only a misdemeanor offense, but it puts a pedestrian at a much higher risk of getting into a fatal situation with a car.
As a Boise firm specializing in personal injury law, Craig Swapp & Associates sees many cases that involve motor vehicle crashes, including some in which pedestrians were injured or killed. If you need assistance with this kind of case, give us a call at 1-800-404-9000 or reach us online through the form below to discuss your case, free of charge. You can also launch the chat feature from any page of this website for more information.