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Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Pedestrian


Pedestrians make up the largest group of road users. Whether it’s walking to school or work, at some time or another everyone is a pedestrian.

Pedestrians can be some of society’s most vulnerable, including children and the elderly, which is why it’s important to build awareness around pedestrian safety. In 2020 alone, there were 138 pedestrians killed in road accidents, according to Road Safety. This is too many.

Pedestrian responsibilities

Pedestrians are classified as those that are on foot, push a bicycle or travel on wheeled devices such as skateboards, wheelchairs and motorised mobility devices. Below we cover a few pedestrian responsibilities and rules that need to be followed to help to keep all road users are safe.

What are the pedestrian crossing road rules?

When crossing a road, a pedestrian must:

  • cross by the shortest safe route; and
  • not stay on the road longer than necessary to cross safely.

What are the rules at pedestrian crossings with lights?

If the pedestrian lights show a red pedestrian light and the pedestrian has not already started crossing the intersection or road, the pedestrian must not start to cross until the pedestrian lights change to green.

What are the rules for pedestrians on the road?

When walking on the road, a pedestrian must not cause a traffic hazard or obstruction by:

  • moving into the path of a driver; or
  • unreasonably obstructing the path of any driver or another pedestrian.

A pedestrian must not travel along a road if there is a footpath or nature strip adjacent to the road, unless it is impracticable to travel on the footpath or nature strip.

Do pedestrians have right of way in Australia?

It’s not just pedestrians who need to adhere to crossing rules; there are rules for drivers as well. This includes a little-known rule that drivers must give way to pedestrians crossing the road into which their vehicles are turning. In other words, drivers must keep a proper look out and give way to pedestrians if there is a danger of collision, even when there is no marked pedestrian crossing. This law giving pedestrians rights applies whether or not there are traffic lights, stop signs or give way signs.

If you have been injured as a pedestrian while crossing a road without looking, while distracted, or drunk, this doesn’t necessarily prevent you from receiving compensation for your injuries. We encourage you to still speak to one of our motor vehicle claim experts to determine your legal rights and potential entitlements.

Distracted walking or “Zombie” walkers

With the arrival of smartphones, we have seen the rise of “zombie” walkers – pedestrians who are engrossed in their devices rather than what’s going on around them. Just like driving, pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings, especially when crossing the road. A pedestrian walking blindly into the path of oncoming cars can have devastating consequences.

Our tip: Try to avoid looking at your phone while you’re walking, especially near roads. If you do need to look at it, make sure you stop and move out of the way of drivers and other pedestrians. Stay alert.

Intoxicated pedestrians

We all know the dangers of driving after drinking alcohol, but walking home along a road whilst intoxicated can also be dangerous. Drinking can reduce your capacity for balance and dull your awareness of your surroundings – a dangerous combination when near traffic.

Our tip: If you are going out and planning to drink alcohol, you should have a plan of how to get home safely. Either take a taxi or rideshare service or, if you’re determined to walk, make sure you have someone sober to accompany you.

Injured on the road? Contact Shine Lawyers

If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident caused by a car, motorcycle, bus, train or tram, our team of Pedestrian Compensation Claim Experts may be able to help.

Sometimes it can be unclear whether the driver or pedestrian are at fault which is why it is important to seek legal advice about your circumstances and prospect of success in bringing a claim.

Our experienced legal team have helped thousands of clients make compensation claims on a No Win No Fee basis*.

Using our claim check tool below, you can determine whether you are eligible to claim, for free, either online or with the help of our team members.

*Conditions Apply

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: September 23, 2021.

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