Learning Who Has The Right Of Way On Local Streets

by Diane Tuazon
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Intersections are supposed to be designed to get drivers and pedestrians around safely, but it's when you ignore the traffic lights and cross walks, the problem begins.

"They're playing Russian roulette jumping out to traffic. We have enough problems with cars colliding with other cars; a pedestrian just can't take on a vehicle," Cpl. Sherrie Curruth, with the Odessa Police Department, said.

Crossing streets is always risky, and if it's not done the correct way, the outcome can be fatal.

"A lot of times people think pedestrians have right of way all the time, but that's not always the case," Lt. Brian Bogart, with the Midland Police Department, said.

After both Midland and Odessa had a pedestrian involved fatal accident in the last week, law enforcement officials want to set the record straight as to who has the right of way when it involves a pedestrian and a driver.

"Pedestrians only have right of way when they are protected by crosswalk. If they cross where there isn't one, then pedestrian is at fault," Lt. Bogart said.

However who's at fault when a pedestrian is already half way through an unmarked cross walk and car approaches? Law enforcement officials say that's where it can become tricky.

"If a pedestrian is half way off the road, the car has to yield to them. If there's a sidewalk there and it's not marked, that's still a crosswalk," Lt. Bogart said.

Officials say pedestrians should always use common sense before taking that first step on the street.

"Use the crosswalk and traffic lights so that cars can see you and abide by it. Red means stop, green means go, and yellow means prepare to stop. Everyone needs to take part in following that," Lt. Bogart said.

Crossing without a cross-walk isn't just dangerous, it can cost you. Police say you can be cited for causing a distraction on the road. One more safety tip, if you are walking at night you should always wear reflective clothing.