Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

You’ve probably heard the very old, very common saying: “Pedestrians have the right of way.” While it’s a good idea to always give pedestrians a little more leeway than you would ordinarily give to vehicles, it is not true that pedestrians always have the right of way. Laws regarding pedestrian right of way vary by state, but below, we will take a look at how the law works in Georgia.

When Pedestrians Have the Right of Way

  • Crosswalks: Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks. In Georgia, drivers are required to come to a full stop (not just yield) when a pedestrian is within a crosswalk that is on the half of the roadway upon which the car is driving, or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or turning onto. “Half of the roadway” in this case means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel. So if you are driving on a road that has five lanes (two going in each direction with a turn lane between them), and a pedestrian enters from the far side of the road walking across your path, you must stop as soon as they enter the turn lane–this is the lane that is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which you are driving.


  • Sidewalks perpendicular to alleys, driveways, or parking garages: Drivers of vehicles emerging from alleys, driveways, or parking garages must stop immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk that extends across the exit of the alley, driveway, or parking garage. In these situations, the driver of the vehicle must yield to any pedestrians in the sidewalk, but is not required to come to a complete stop.

When Pedestrians Do Not Have the Right of Way

  • Suddenly leaping in front of a vehicle: Pedestrians are prohibited from suddenly leaving a curb or other place of safety to walk or jump into the path of a moving vehicle at such a close distance that it would be impractical for the driver to yield.
  • Crossing roadways elsewhere than at crosswalks: Any pedestrian who is crossing a roadway at any point other than a crosswalk must yield the right of way to all vehicles on the roadway unless the pedestrian has already, and under safe conditions, entered the roadway.*
  • Tunnels and overhead walkways: Any pedestrians who cross a roadway at a point where a tunnel or overhead walkway has been installed for pedestrian safety must yield to drivers if they choose not to use the tunnel or overhead walkway.

* A note on “jaywalking”: Jaywalking—the common term for crossing a street outside of a crosswalk—is not illegal in Georgia. It merely means that the pedestrian must yield the right of way to vehicles already on the road.

Contact an Atlanta Pedestrian Accident Attorney

If you were a pedestrian who was involved in an accident with a vehicle and have suffered injuries, you may have a claim against the driver. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Muscogee County, Newton County, and Richmond County.

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