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When do Maryland pedestrians have the right of way?

In last week's post we discussed the alarmingly high rate of fatal pedestrian accidents in Maryland. The high death rate is somewhat surprising, in light of the fact that pedestrians legally have the right of way over motor vehicles in many circumstances.

According to Maryland law, a driver is obligated to come to a complete stop when a pedestrian is in a crosswalk on the same half of the road as the vehicle. The vehicle must also stop when the pedestrian is in an adjacent lane in the other half of the roadway and walking towards the vehicle's side of the road.

A driver is prohibited from passing a vehicle that has stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, whether the crosswalk is marked or unmarked. When a vehicle is making a left or right turn on a green arrow or a circular green signal, or making a right turn on red after stopping, the driver must yield to a pedestrian who is lawfully crossing in an adjacent crosswalk.

Pedestrians do not have the right of way in all situations. Pedestrians must yield to motor vehicles if they are crossing a street anywhere other than a crosswalk. And pedestrians are prohibited from crossing when a signal shows a "Don't Walk" indication.

When a pedestrian is struck and injured by a negligent driver while lawfully crossing a street the pedestrian has the right to sue the driver for compensation, including damages for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. In the event of a fatal accident the pedestrian's next of kin can recover damages in a wrongful death claim.

Source: Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, "Pedestrian Safety in Maryland," accessed Oct. 4, 2015

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