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Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right-of-way in Georgia?

By Butler Prather LLP on February 10, 2021

Pedestrians and vehicles regularly come in close contact with one another in and around the roadways. This is particularly true around towns, cities, and major metropolitan areas throughout Georgia. Most drivers do what they can to avoid striking pedestrians, but many people are confused about when a pedestrian has the right-of-way in Georgia. Here we want to discuss what state law says about the pedestrian right-of-way. Whether you are a pedestrian or a driver, this information is crucial to ensuring smooth and cooperative roadway operations.

What rights do pedestrians have in Georgia?

An old saying that commonly gets tossed around is, “Pedestrians always have the right-of-way.” While this may be a good rule of thumb for drivers to ensure that they are careful on the roadways, this type of thinking can be deceptively dangerous. This is particularly true if pedestrians think that they can do whatever they want to roadways and expect other vehicles to yield to them. Anytime we start a discussion about pedestrian right-of-way in Georgia, we always want to caution with this – drivers AND pedestrians need to exercise common sense and care on the roadways.

When pedestrians have the right-of-way

There are various scenarios when drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. This includes the following:

  • Georgia law requires that any car approaching a marked crosswalk stop for pedestrians that need to cross (OCGA 40-6-91(a)). Georgia drivers must come to a full stop when a pedestrian is within a crosswalk.
  • Georgia law also states that drivers who are emerging from driveways, alleys, or parking garages must stop immediately prior to driving onto the sidewalk or the roadway that extends from the exit. The driver of the vehicle must yield to any pedestrians on the sidewalk or the street immediately outside of the exit area.

When pedestrians do not have the right-of-way

Pedestrians certainly do not have the right to do whatever they want around the roadway. As we mentioned above, pedestrians do have the right-of-way at a marked crosswalk, but what about situations where there are no marked crosswalks? In these scenarios, pedestrians must yield to oncoming traffic when crossing unless they have already entered the roadway under safe conditions.

Pedestrians are also required to use sidewalks if a sidewalk is provided. If no sidewalk is provided, then pedestrians are required to walk or run on the shoulder of the road as far away from the edge of the road as possible without causing harm to themselves. If there is no sidewalk or no shoulder, a person should run or walk as near as possible to the outside edge of the roadway. If the pedestrian is on a two-lane road, they should walk or run against traffic.

Liability and compensation in a pedestrian accident case

If a pedestrian is struck and injured in a vehicle collision, it will be crucial to determine whether or not they had the right-of-way. If a pedestrian had the right-of-way when they were struck by a vehicle, they will likely be able to recover compensation from the at-fault driver. However, if the pedestrian did not have the right-of-way when they were struck by a vehicle, they may not be able to recover any compensation from the at-fault driver. Any person who has been involved in a vehicle-pedestrian accident should seek assistance from a skilled personal injury lawyer to help them with their claim.

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