Understanding your rights as a pedestrian in South Carolina (or really any state) is an important step to take if you are concerned about your safety. Learning your rights won’t necessarily prevent you from getting in a car accident while out for a walk but it will help to limit the chances that you are.
When somebody doesn’t understand their rights, they are more likely to take actions which put them in the way of danger. This is because pedestrian laws in this country were made with safety in mind. But knowing pedestrian laws isn’t just good for pedestrians, it can help make you a better driver because you know when and where you are most likely to encounter pedestrians (though keep in mind that anybody can decide to break the law and put themselves in harm’s way so it’s no excuse to slack on your awareness while driving or taking a walk).
Where am I Allowed to Walk as a Pedestrian in South Carolina?
The best place to walk as a pedestrian is on the sidewalk. After all, the sidewalks were built in order to give pedestrians a place to walk without fear of oncoming traffic. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only place where pedestrians can walk.
You have just as much right to the road as drivers do when there is not a sidewalk. However, you should always walk on the side of the road that faces on-coming traffic and you should be as far over to the shoulder of the road as possible.
When you need to cross the road, the best thing to do is to use a crosswalk. When crossing on a crosswalk, stick to the right side wherever this is possible to do so. Sometimes you have to cross the road where there is no crosswalk and this is okay in most cases so long as you yield the right of way to vehicles prior to crossing, compared to vehicles yielding the right of way to pedestrians who use a crosswalk.
If there is a sidewalk, walk there. If there is no sidewalk then walk on the shoulder of the road. If there is no shoulder then walk as far to the outside edge of the roadway as possible.
Pedestrians are not permitted to walk along a freeway. Doing so can result in a misdemeanor charge that could be up to $100 or result in 30 days behind bars.
It’s also important to note that you can lose your right to walk along a roadway if you are so intoxicated as to become a hazard. In these cases you can still walk on the sidewalk but that is all.
When Do I Have the Right of Way as a Pedestrian in South Carolina?
Knowing when you have the right of way is important for many reasons. Stepping into the road when you don’t have the right of way can easily result in injury as unexpecting drivers have to slam on the brakes to avoid striking into you. You can also be charged with various offenses that could result in expensive fines or even some time in a state correctional facility.
As a pedestrian in South Carolina you have the right of way when:
- You are crossing the street at a crosswalk. Vehicles are required to stop when you are crossing their lane or when you are close to entering their lane. However, if a car is too close to the crosswalk to be able to stop safely then you do not have the right of way until they pass.
- You are only allowed to have a white cane, such as those with failing vision use, if you suffer from vision problems. But if you have such a cane or a guide dog then you have the right away when crossing the road. All drivers must stop, regardless of how far the blind individual is from their lane and they are required to stay stopped until you have finished crossing.
- If a vehicle has to cross a sidewalk, such as when pulling off the road and into a parking lot, pedestrians have the right of way to the sidewalk.
As a pedestrian you yield the right of way, even on sidewalks, to any emergency vehicle which is using an audible signal (such as a siren) or visual signals (such as flashing lights).
Section 56 5 3230 of South Carolina’s pedestrian laws applies to drivers, not pedestrians, but it states clearly that every driver has a responsibility to exercise care to avoid colliding with pedestrians when driving. This applies to emergency vehicles as well, even though they take the right of way from pedestrians.
What are my Responsibilities as a Pedestrian in South Carolina?
As a pedestrian in South Carolina you are responsible for:
- Following any and all traffic control devices and traffic regulations
- Following any and all local regulations; these may alter specific circumstances previously set out above, so it’s important to see if your local area has any regulations you need to follow
- Making sure you yield to traffic before crossing when there is not a crosswalk; ensuring that traffic has enough time to stop before stepping onto a crosswalk; and following any crossing signs or control devices
- Staying on the sidewalk, the shoulder of the road or as far over to the side of the road as possible depending on which are present
- Avoiding freeways
- Not standing in the roadway whether to watch a vehicle be parked, guarding a parked vehicle or soliciting a ride from a vehicle
- Yielding to emergency vehicles
- Staying off the roadway if you are dangerously intoxicated, except where there is a sidewalk
- Staying off of bridges or railways where signals are present to warn off traffic
What Should I Do if My Rights as a Pedestrian are Violated?
If your rights as a pedestrian are violated, or if you are charged with violating one of your rights when you know that you didn’t, reach out to Leddy Law Firm to learn how we can help. Whether it means getting you compensation for your injuries or helping connect you with an attorney that is better suited for your case, we’re always willing to help out those in need.
Give us a call at (803) 779-9966 to see how Leddy Law Firm can help.