Cochrane Personal Injury Lawyer

When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way

When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way?

When a car accident or a pedestrian collision causes serious injuries, it is important to know who is to blame for the accident. Because many more things work here, including pedestrian rights and driver rules. The pedestrian right of way refers to the people’s right to use and accessing roads, highways or streets. That means the roads and highways are not constructed solely for vehicles.

Everyone is paying taxes, so each person is contributing to building the roads and highways. However, both motor drivers and passers should follow and maintain synchronized rules for the safety of both parties.

Pedestrian Right of the Way Law

Alberta’s right-of-way obliges an individual to “yield and allow” other by-passers or vehicles to cross. This law governs the safety guidelines regarding crossing a freeway, a crossroad or type of roadway.

A set of signs, signals, along with the driver’s guide of operation, provide a general idea of when a vehicle should slow down and stop to let another vehicle or a pedestrian use the road. In addition to that, despite having the right of way, you still have the responsibility to ensure safety and avoid catastrophe.

Read the following section to know the right-of-way laws and its instruction in detail:

Signs and Signal for Pedestrians

A motor vehicle operator must know pedestrians’ signals and signs, including traffic lights and written words. Pedestrians can use the roadways or crosswalks when “WALK” is displayed (as a written word or sign). Similarly, they have to wait and should not proceed to cross the road when “DON’T WALK” is displayed.

When Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way

Different Traffic Lights

If there are no “WALK” or “DON’T WALK” signs, pedestrians have to notice the colours of the lights carefully. The three colours of light and their instruction are given below:

  • Solid Red Light: Do proceed to use the intersection.
  • Solid Yellow Light: Complete using the intersection as quickly as possible, and do NOT proceed with it if you are not already using it.
  • Solid Green Light: Pedestrians can access the roadway or intersection to cross. It is applicable to both marked and unmarked crosswalks.

In addition to that, a pedestrian should always observe the street carefully before using it.


Pedestrians always must use a crosswalk if one is visible nearby. Using a crosswalk is always the safest choice.

There are two types of crosswalks:

Marked Crosswalk

A marked crosswalk is a site on the roads and freeways where a part of the roads is vividly marked by signs, signals, paints or traffic control devices. It is the safer of the two types.

Unmarked Crosswalk

An unmarked crosswalk is usually available at an intersection of two sideways connecting the main way. Be cautious while accessing an unmarked crosswalk.

Pedestrians Right of Way

Though a pedestrian has the right of way, a peace officer or traffic control device can temporarily postpone that. If a pedestrian is accessing the road without a crosswalk, he/she has to “yield the right of way” to oncoming traffics.

Moreover, drivers have to watch out for senior citizens. They take more time to cross the roads. Failing to follow the right of way guideline, a driver may get a fine of $810 and demerit points of 4 (four). Still, a pedestrian must NOT exercise any form of negligence while crossing a road or highway.


To use an unmarked crosswalk, a pedestrian must signal the oncoming vehicles on the street before utilizing the roadway. There is no rigid guideline on how to signal while self-crossing a road. So use your social sense.

Here is a general guideline for signalling:

  1. Pause and look both ways to decide when it is safe to use the street
  2. Spread your arms to hint the moto drivers slow down and point the direction you are moving.
  3. Once there is no chance of collision with an oncoming vehicle, gently cross the road.

In addition to these, make sure you are accessing the road to give you maximum visibility. Secondly, mind the weather, as it tampers with the vision of automobile drivers.

Does Pedestrian always have the right of way?

Generally, pedestrians always have the right-of-way, but they can be responsible for whimsical crossing and getting on the road without showing any signs of oncoming vehicles. In addition to this, by all means, a pedestrian must utilize a crosswalk nearby.

When a crosswalk and traffic lights are available closely and visible from the location a pedestrian is trying to cross the street, they will not be entitled to the right way of pedestrians.

Bear in mind: a driver (or cyclist) is not automatically at flaw pedestrian-vehicle clash.

Usually, a pedestrian is stripped of the pedestrian right of way in the following circumstances:

  • Jaywalking*
  • Crossing in the middle of the road or highway
  • Crossing the road outside of a crosswalk
  • Ignoring the traffic signals while crossing the road
  • Getting on a highway or street while intoxicated or not being fully conscious
  • Walking or crossing a road where the access to the street is restricted to the pedestrians
  • Utilizing the crosswalk at the last moment of countdown or moments after the countdown
  • Accessing the roadway while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs

*In some Federal States, jaywalking is counted as a crime, though a jaywalker usually has no right-of-way in case of a collision.

Be cautious and responsible while enjoying the right-of-way. A fine for negligence or due to accident will be expensive to compensate.


Drivers should be extra cautious in a blind alley and near school crossings. On the other hand, it is also a civilian duty of a pedestrian to use a crosswalk and appropriate gestures (on the location with no crosswalk).

The right way of pedestrians does not give immunity to the Pedestrian for their negligence. Follow the code and regulations of your states, plus your common sense to justify when pedestrians have the right of way.

Scroll to Top