The law is clear. In Florida, drivers must yield – slow down or stop – for a pedestrian crossing the street in a crosswalk, even when traffic control signals are not present. It is the responsibility of both drivers and walkers to educate themselves about Florida’s driver yield laws in order to ensure the safety and comfortability of all road users.
Law enforcement officers issue citations and warnings to drivers who fail to obey the law during crosswalk enforcement operations, dubbed Operation Best Foot Forward. And, in combination with high quality education and low-cost engineering improvements, the threat of three points on a driver’s license and a minimum of $164 fine can help influence drivers to be more careful on the road – improving safety for walkers. Following is a summary of some of the most common driver offenses that are ticketed during a Best Foot Forward law enforcement operation.
Crosswalks with no traffic control signals
- Crosswalks with signs: The driver of a vehicle at any crosswalk where signage so indicates shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. (Section 316.130 (7) b F.S.)
- Crosswalk with no signs: When traffic control signals are not in place or in operation and there is no signage indicating otherwise, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. (Section 316.130(7)(c) F.S.)
- Passing a vehicle that has yielded: Whenever a vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle. (Section 316.130(9) F.S.)
Crosswalks with traffic control signals
- Stopping at red lights: A driver facing a steady red signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown. (Section 316.075 (1)(c)1 F.S.)
- Right turns during red lights: However, a driver of a vehicle which is stopped at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk, or if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection for a steady red signal may make a right turn (except where this is prohibited by a sign), but shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic proceeding with a permitted signal. (Section 316.075 (1)(c)1a F.S.)
- Left turns onto one-way streets: A driver on a one-way street who intends to turn left onto another one-way street must stop for a steady red signal but may then make a left turn into the intersection on a one-way street (except where this is prohibited by a sign), but must yield to pedestrians and other traffic proceeding as directed by the signal at the intersection. (Section 316.075 (1)(c)1b F.S.)
- Pedestrians in crosswalks at red lights: A driver facing a steady red signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian, with a permitted signal, to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. (Section 316.075 (1)(c)2a F.S.)
- Turning during green lights: Vehicular traffic facing a circular green signal may proceed cautiously straight through or turn right or left unless a sign at such place prohibits either such turn. But vehicular traffic, including vehicles turning right or left, shall yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and to pedestrians lawfully within the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk at the time such signal is exhibited. (Section 316.075 (1)(a)1 F.S.)
- Turning during green arrows: Vehicular traffic facing a green arrow signal, shown alone or in combination with another indication, may cautiously enter the intersection only to make the movement indicated by such arrow, or such other movement as is permitted by other indications shown at the same time. Such vehicular traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection. (Section 316.075 (1)(a)2 F.S.)
Visually or mobility impaired pedestrians
- Visually impaired pedestrians: Whenever a pedestrian is crossing, or attempting to cross, a public street or highway, guided by a dog guide or carrying in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red, the driver of every vehicle approaching the intersection or place where the pedestrian is attempting to cross shall bring his or her vehicle to a full stop before arriving at such intersection or place of crossing and, before proceeding, shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injuring such pedestrian. (Section 316.1301 (2) F.S.)
- Mobility impaired pedestrians: Whenever a pedestrian who is mobility impaired is in the process of crossing a public street or highway with the assistance of a guide dog or service animal designated as such with a visible means of identification, a walker, a crutch, an orthopedic cane, or a wheelchair, the driver of a vehicle approaching the intersection shall bring his or her vehicle to a full stop before arriving at the intersection and, before proceeding, shall take precautions necessary to avoid injuring the pedestrian. (Section 316.1303 (1) F.S.)
Due care and safe speed
- Exercise due care: Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care* to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person. (Section 316.130 (15) F.S.)
- Drive at reasonable speed: No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event, speed shall be controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or object on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care. (Section 316.183 (1) F.S.)
- Avoid hazards: The driver of every vehicle shall drive at an appropriately reduced speed when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, or when any special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions. (Section 316.185 F.S.)
*Due care is the conduct that a reasonable man or woman will exercise in a particular situation in looking out for the safety of others.
People walking must also take responsibility for their safety and obey Florida laws. While no one should blame victims in traffic fatalities, obeying the law and exercising caution could save your life. Below is an FAQ exploring some key laws you should know and follow for your own protection:
Do I have to obey traffic devices when I'm not in a car?
Yes. Pedestrians must obey any official traffic control device – sign, signal, or pavement striping – specifically applicable to the pedestrian unless otherwise directed by a police officer. (Section 316.130 (1) F.S.)
Do I have to use the sidewalk? What if there isn't one?
Do I always have the right-of-way, no matter where I cross the street?
A pedestrian may not leave the curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield. (Section 316.130 (8) F.S.)
Pedestrians crossing the roadway at any point other than within a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection must yield the right-of-way to the vehicles upon the roadway. (Section 316.130 (10) F.S.)
Pedestrians crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway. (Section 316.130 (7) c F.S.)
Pedestrians are required to keep to the right half of crosswalks. (Section 316.130 (13) F.S.)
Except within a marked crosswalk, pedestrians must cross the roadway at a right angle or by the shortest route. (Section 316.130 (12) F.S.)
As long as I'm at an intersection, can I cross the street however I want to?
Pedestrians are subject to traffic signals at intersections. (Section 316.130 (2) F.S.)
No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic control devices. When authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic control devices pertaining to such crossing movements. (Section 316.130 (14) F.S.)
A pedestrian may not cross between two adjacent signalized intersections, except in a marked crosswalk. (Section 316.130 (11) F.S.)
Can I stand in the street if I'm calling a taxi or holding a parking spot?
No person shall stand in the portion of a roadway paved for vehicular traffic for the purpose of soliciting a ride, employment, or business from the occupant of any vehicle. (Section 316.130 (5) F.S.)
No person shall stand on or in proximity to a street or highway for the purpose of soliciting the watching or guarding of any vehicle while parked or about to be parked on a street or highway. (Section 316.130 (6) F.S.)
What are the rules for bridges, railroads, or freeways/highways?
No pedestrian may jump or dive from a publicly owned bridge. (Section 316.130 (17) F.S.)
No pedestrian shall enter or remain upon any bridge or bridge approach, beyond the bridge signal, gate, or barrier after a bridge operation signal indication has been given. (Section 316.130 (16) F.S.)
No pedestrian shall pass through, around, over, or under any crossing gate or barrier at a railroad grade crossing or bridge while such gate or barrier is closed or is being opened or closed. (Section 316.130 (16) F.S.)
No pedestrian shall walk upon a limited access facility (freeway or interstate highway) or a ramp connecting a limited access facility to any other street or highway. (Section 316.130 (18) F.S.)
Can I carry a white cane if I'm not blind?
It is unlawful for any person, unless totally or partially blind or otherwise incapacitated, while on any public street or highway, to carry in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red. (Section 316.1301 (1) F.S.)