Understanding how crosswalks work is important as a driver or pedestrian. Crosswalks can protect pedestrians when everyone uses them correctly and respects rights-of-way. Otherwise, crosswalks can put pedestrians in danger. In 2017, 5,977 pedestrians in the U.S. lost their lives in traffic accidents. Many of these pedestrians were in crosswalks at the time of their collisions. Learn the law for marked and unmarked crosswalks in Utah to keep yourself and others safe.
What Is an Unmarked Crosswalk?
Utah law does not define unmarked crosswalk, but in general, it is a place pedestrians can cross without a painted crosswalk or traffic-control device. Most unmarked crosswalks are at intersections, where one road meets another. Unmarked crosswalks can pose higher risks to pedestrians than marked crosswalks. Drivers may not recognize the area as a lawful pedestrian crosswalk, may not yield the right-of-way or may not come to complete stops. Yet pedestrians have many of the same rights at unmarked crosswalks as marked crosswalks.
Who Has the Right-of-Way?
A pedestrian will typically have the right-of-way at an unmarked intersection or crosswalk. Just because the crosswalk does not have white paint or a traffic-control device does not make it any less valid of a place for pedestrians to cross. At an unmarked crosswalk, drivers must come to complete stops and allow pedestrians to cross. Drivers must yield to pedestrians crossing at unmarked crosswalks if they are on the same half of the road as the driver or approaching the halfway mark so closely as to be in danger. A driver may only proceed through the intersection after pedestrians have exited the driver’s side of the road.
Even with the right-of-way, a pedestrian cannot blindly step off a curb and into traffic. The pedestrian must wait until it is safe to cross the road. No pedestrian in Utah may leave the curb when an oncoming vehicle is close enough to create a hazard. While crossing the road at an unmarked intersection, the pedestrian should proceed across the road as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is against the law to intentionally block traffic on an unmarked or marked crosswalk. If a pedestrian breaks any crosswalk laws, he or she may be unable to hold a driver liable for a subsequent accident.
Jurisdiction Over Unmarked Crosswalks
Utah Code 41-6a-1010 states that a highway authority in its jurisdiction may change the rules at a specific unmarked crosswalk after an engineering and traffic investigation. If an investigation shows just cause, the authority may prohibit pedestrian from crossing at an unmarked intersection. The authority may also make pedestrians yield the right-of-way to vehicles. In either case, the city must install traffic-control devices such as signs that indicate the specific restrictions.
Unmarked Crosswalk Safety Tips
As a driver, keep your distance from pedestrians. Utah Code states that motorists may not operate within three feet of pedestrians. Keep a careful eye out for crossing pedestrians, especially in urban areas. When in a construction or maintenance zone, you must always yield to pedestrians. You must also yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and adjacent crosswalks at stop or yield signs. At an unmarked crosswalk, pedestrians have the right-of-way. The only time you will have the right-of-way at a crosswalk is if you have a green light at an intersection.
As a pedestrian, take your safety into your own hands. Do not trust drivers to obey traffic laws or yield you the right-of-way, even when you know you have the right to cross. Some drivers may not see you. Others may intentionally ignore your right to cross. Always stop and look both ways before entering a roadway, even if you have the right-of-way. Avoid walking distracted. Only cross at an unmarked crosswalk when it is safe to do so – when oncoming vehicles are far enough away to safely stop and allow you to cross.