Safety and Laws
Before making walking a part of your commute, make sure you know how to be safe. Basic safety guidelines and pedestrian laws for Pennsylvania are below.
Crossing the Street Safely
Most accidents involving pedestrians occur while crossing the street. Below are some tips for crossing safely:
- Just because the light is green doesn’t mean it’s safe: Before you step off the curb, always check to the left, right and left again to make sure it is safe to cross the street.
- Never assume a driver sees you: Just because you see an oncoming motorist, that doesn’t always mean the driver sees you. Always make certain the driver sees you and stops.
- Don’t assume you’re safe on a crosswalk: Drivers do not always see pedestrians or stop for them on a crosswalk. Always look left-right-left before crossing and continue to look and listen as you go. Stay within the lines of the crosswalk and never walk behind a car that is blocking the crosswalk.
- Always obey walk/don’t walk signs when crossing a crosswalk: Even when the sign indicates it is safe to walk, always look both ways and look and listen as you cross. The driver may not see you, may turn without looking for pedestrians or may run a traffic light illegally.
- Walk, don’t run: Running or darting into the street increases the danger that motorists will not see you or will not be able to stop in time.
General Safety Tips
- Walk against traffic.
- Be aware of your surroundings and be alert.
- Walk in a group when possible.
- Do not wear headphones.
- If you walk at times of low light, wear a reflective vest or bright clothing.
Pedestrian laws help ensure the safety of everyone on the road. Below is an overview of laws that apply to pedestrians in Pennsylvania.
You have the right of way:
- At crosswalks and intersections where there are no traffic signals.
- When you’re walking on a sidewalk that extends across an alley, building entrance, road or driveway used by motorists.
You must yield to motorists:
- If you’re not within a crosswalk at an intersection or marked crosswalk.
- When crossing a roadway where there is a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing available.
- When walking along the side of a roadway.
- Where a sidewalk is available and can be used, it is unlawful to walk along the roadway.
- Where a sidewalk is not available, you must stay on the shoulder as far from the edge of the road as possible.
- Where there is no sidewalk or shoulder, you must walk as near as possible to the outside edge of the roadway. If it’s a two-way road, you can only walk on the left side.
- Pedestrians must obey police officers or other officials who are authorized to direct traffic.
- In urban districts, you cannot cross at any place except a marked crosswalk between intersections where traffic-control signals are in operation.
- You cannot cross an intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices, a police officer or other authorized traffic control person.
Safe Routes to School Program
Pennsylvania administers the federal Safe Routes to School Program, which facilitates projects that enable and encourage children to safely walk or bike to school. To learn more about the program, visit the website.
Request Yield to Pedestrian Signs for Your Community
Yield to pedestrian signs can help heighten motorists’ awareness of pedestrian traffic in an area. Request yield to pedestrian signs for your community.