Pedestrians, vehicles and who has the right-of-way

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – On any given day crossing Duraleigh and Pleasant Valley roads in Raleigh can be tough – and even dangerous.  

“It’s a challenge. It’s a risk, it’s really a risk to your life at times,” said David Lynch who regularly walks the route.

There are crosswalks and pedestrian signals but, Lynch doesn’t see it as a guarantee that drivers will stop.

“Even when you have the go-ahead, you have to pay a lot of attention in all directions because people here drive kind of aggressively to put it mildly,” said Lynch.

Raleigh Police Officer Derek Morris, who works as a crash investigator for the Department, recalls a crash in January where a driver hit a woman downtown crossing at McDowell and West Lane streets.

The pedestrian later died because of her injuries.

“Having to deliver that death notification is one the hardest things you’ll have to do – telling a family that their loved one is not coming home,” said Morris.

In a separate incident, surveillance video caught a car crashing into seven people on a downtown Raleigh sidewalk in October 2018.  

Morris said incidents can be even more severe in other areas of Raleigh.

“So the injuries in the pedestrian crashes are more severe once you get outside of downtown. And that’s where we see more of our fatality crashes is outside of downtown and that always correlates with speed,” he said.

It can be confusing knowing who has the right of way.

By law, drivers making a right turn at a light have to let a pedestrian cross first.  

Drivers are also supposed to stop for someone crossing within a crosswalk where there is no signal and no intersection.

But, that can be tricky.

CBS17 tried to do just that on Atlantic Avenue in front of the UPS facility.  

Cars flew by without drivers seeming to notice someone is trying to cross.

CBS 17 also found the same to be true on our first attempt at a downtown crosswalk where there is no signal.

The responsibility is not just on the driver.

There are laws for pedestrians, too.

“Don’t always assume you have the right of way,” Morris said.

When you’re not at an intersection or a marked crosswalk, drivers have the right of way.

If there’s a sidewalk, the law says you should use it and not walk on the street.

Beyond the law, you just need to pay attention.

That means eyes off your phone and just as your mother told you as a child – look both ways.  

“Most importantly, even when you have the right of way to make sure that that driver sees you before you enter the roadway just make sure they acknowledge that you’re there,” said Morris.

Which Lynch says he does.

“I don’t want to always be on the lookout for cars but. that’s the reality here in Raleigh,” said Morris.

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