Mark Roman | May 25, 2022 | Florida Law
Did you know that the word “jaywalking” doesn’t exist in any Florida regulations? It is simply slang that has been in use since the early 20th century.
Even though the term has no legal meaning, it is well understood by the general public. Jaywalking is the act of crossing a road by a pedestrian at a location other than an intersection or unlawfully crossing a roadway. Most people believe that jaywalking is always illegal. But surprisingly, Florida law specifically allows certain types of jaywalking.
Crossing Without an Intersection
Florida law permits pedestrians to cross a road at any point, as long as they don’t suddenly leave the curb and step into the path of a vehicle. The only thing that changes for a pedestrian when no intersection is nearby is that the pedestrian must give the right of way to any vehicles on the road.
However, assuming a pedestrian follows these rules, they cannot be detained or punished for crossing the road at an unmarked crosswalk.
Crossing the Road at an Intersection
Pedestrians have even more rights when crossing the road at an intersection. All intersections are considered to be the site of a crosswalk, whether it is marked or not.
When pedestrians are crossing the road at an intersection, they have the right of way as long as they obey all traffic signs and signals.
Traffic Signs for Pedestrians
Some traffic signs and signals provide instructions to pedestrians about how and when they may cross the road. When these instructions conflict with default regulations, the signage takes precedence.
For example, a red pedestrian walk signal makes it illegal to cross at an intersection until the signal turns green again. If you fail to obey these signs, you can be ticketed for violating the law.
Is Jaywalking Safe in Florida?
While jaywalking is typically legal in the state of Florida, that doesn’t mean it is safe. Crossing the road at a location where a crosswalk doesn’t exist can be quite dangerous. Drivers may be less likely to notice you, and your chance of being in a pedestrian accident could increase dramatically.
Approximately eight to nine thousand pedestrians are involved in crashes in Florida every year. Roughly 700 of those accidents result in fatalities. Jaywalking is a major contributor to those stats. Whenever possible, it is safer to find a crosswalk before crossing a street.
What Obligations Do Drivers Have to Pedestrians in Florida?
Whether you are crossing a street legally or not, drivers must watch for pedestrians and avoid hitting them. A driver who is not paying attention is at least partially at fault for any accident, even if a pedestrian illegally crossed the road. If you are a pedestrian, you should be particularly alert to the presence of distracted drivers.
Some common reasons for distracted driving are:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Phone calls or texting
- Eating food
- Having distracting passengers, such as young children
Drivers who are distracted may not notice that you are crossing a road, even if you are at a marked intersection. They also might run red lights or not stop at stop signs. If they hit you, they will be liable for any damages, but that is scant comfort when you are in the hospital or if you are killed.
How to Keep Safe as a Pedestrian in Florida
The most important rule for keeping safe is to assume that drivers don’t see you. If you make that assumption, you won’t put yourself in a position where the driver has to brake or swerve to avoid you. It is always better to lose a little time than to lose your life.
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