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Safety Tips & Laws

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From the FHWA:


Crossing Advice for Pedestrians

Each year about 5,000 pedestrian are killed and 69,000 are injured in motor vehicle crashes.  Young children and the elderly are more likely to be killed or injured in a pedestrian crash than any other group. While Many are quick to blame drivers for pedestrian fatalities and injuries, the pedestrian is many times also at fault.

We are all pedestrians at one time or another, and the traffic signals, signs and pavement marking are there to assure our safety.  However, we should realize that no amount of traffic control devices will be able to protect us from ourselves if we do not pay attention to the "Signs of Safety" all around us.

  • "Crossing Rules" for Pedestrians
  • ALWAYS follow these steps when crossing a street:
  • Always use a marked crosswalk when one is available. The bright white lines of a crosswalk remind motorists to look out for pedestrians.
  • STOP at the CURB, edge of road, corner, or parked vehicle before proceeding across.
  • Look left-right-left, and if it's clear, begin crossing.
  • Continue to check for traffic in all directions, especially for vehicles turning "Right-on-Red".
  • If there is traffic, make eye contact with the driver/s so they see you, understand your intention, and STOP before you start to cross.
  • At signalized intersections that don't have pedestrian signals, pedestrians facing a green light may cross within a crosswalk in the direction of the light, but only when it is safe to do so.
  • At signalized intersections with pedestrians signals, its important to follow the directions given by the signals.
  • If there is a push button, press the button and wait for the pedestrian signal to display the "walk" indication. The "walk" signal indicates that a pedestrian facing the signal indication may proceed across the roadway in that direction. Remember to follow basic "Crossing Rules" and check for turning vehicles.
  • A flashing "don't walk" signal indication means that a pedestrian shall not cross the roadway in the direction of the indication, but any pedestrian who has partly completed their crossing shall finish crossing or proceed to a safety island in that direction.
  • A steadily illuminated "don't walk" indication means a pedestrian shall not enter the roadway in the direction of the indication. Pedestrians waiting to cross must wait for the next "walk" signal.
  • Remember, don't take those "NO RIGHT TURN ON RED" signs for granted. Always check for turning vehicles before stepping off the curb - motorists make mistakes too.
  • ALWAYS use sidewalks when they are available.
  • On roads without sidewalks, walk of the left side of the road, facing traffic.
  • Watch for cars backing out of parking spaces and driveways.
  • Never walk along or attempt to cross expressways, interstate highways, or turnpikes.
  • Almost 60 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur between 6:00pm and 6:00am, so when walking at night, wear something retro-reflective on your clothing and shoes, or just carry a flashlight. Drivers will be able to see you from 2 to 3 times further away with the retro-reflective materials.
  • About 33 percent of all pedestrians killed have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.1 or greater - so limit any alcohol consumption if you plan to walk.

FHWA Websitenew window icon 


VA Law:   § 46.2-924. A.  Drivers must yield to any pedestrian crossing at any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block; at any regular pedestrian crossing indicated by a curb lowering or ramp; or at any intersection on a street where the speed limit is less than 35 miles per hour.

B.  The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.

C.  Pedestrians crossing highways at intersections shall at all times have the right-of-way over vehicles making turns into the highways being crossed by the pedestrians.

§ 46.2-932.1. Drivers approaching a totally or partially blind pedestrian who is carrying a cane predominantly white or metallic in color (with or without a red tip) or using a dog guide shall take all necessary precautions to avoid injury to such blind pedestrian and dog guide.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • When turning right on red, look to your passenger side before turning to make sure no one is stepping off the curb or in front of your car.
  • At intersections or mid-block crossings, stop your vehicle behind the crosswalk, not on it.
  • Be especially cautious and yield to pedestrians when making both left and right turns.
  • At crossings without pedestrian signals, pedestrians have the right of way as soon as they step into a crosswalk.  This includes any type of crosswalk (bricked, stripped, etc.) or at sidewalk leading to a corner.
  • Following in a continuous line of cars (follow the leader) is no excuse for not yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk!
  • Watch for and yield to pedestrians when exiting or entering driveways and private roads.
  • Use extra caution where children may be present (schools, neighborhoods, playgrounds, parks, bus stops).


VA Law:   § 46.2-924.  No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.

§ 46.2-925. Pedestrian control signals exhibiting the word "Walk" indicate that pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the highway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right-of-way by the drivers of all vehicles.

"Don't Walk" signals indicate that no pedestrians shall start to cross the highway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his crossing on the Walk signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island.

§ 46.2-926. No pedestrian shall step into a highway open to moving vehicular traffic at any point between intersections where his presence would be obscured from the vision of drivers of approaching vehicles by a vehicle or other obstruction at the curb or side.

If the pedestrian is stepping into a highway at a point between intersections to board a bus or to enter a safety zone, he or she shall cross the highway only at right angles (don’t cross at a diagonal).

Safety Tips for Pedestrians   

  • Remember, you may have the right of way, but crosswalks are not always safe.  Stop and look both ways before crossing.
  • If you suspect that a car is slowing to let you cross a street, wait and make eye contact with the driver before you step into the road. 
  • Watch for turning vehicles at intersections.  Even though you have the “Walk” signal (giving you the right-of-way), drivers may also make legal turns on red lights or green arrows. 
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing at night.

Please call (434) 970-3182 if you have any questions.

Last Updated: Feb 17, 2005