Jaywalking traffic accidents are a serious, fatal problem in the United States – especially in Tampa Bay. Pedestrian involved car accidents kill sixteen times more people than natural disasters do.
A shocking study “Dangerous by Design” from the National Complete Streets Coalition found that Florida is the most fatal state for pedestrians. Researchers studied 47,025 pedestrian deaths across the United States that happened in the last 10 years. Orlando, Florida topped the list of deadliest cities with 583 pedestrian deaths, and Tampa was not far behind in 2nd place.
Just take a look at the situation for yourself:
Pedestrian traffic fatalities in Florida actually increased by 8% in 2016 according to a study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. You can see how this trend continues in the National Complete Streets Coalition’s 2016 list of Most Dangerous Metro Areas for Walking.
The top seven most dangerous metro areas are all in Florida and the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area is the seventh most dangerous metropolitan area for walking in the country. While many other states are cracking down on jaywalking, the laws aren’t so clear in Florida.
What are the jaywalking laws in Tampa and surrounding cities Florida cities? Are you a pedestrian who’s been in a car accident? Learn what to do when you’ve been in a car accident as a pedestrian in Tampa Bay:
What is Jaywalking?
Surprisingly, “jaywalking” is not a legal term. It’s a slang term for the right-of-way laws that specifically apply to pedestrians that appeared in the early 1900s with the arrival of cars. Its first known use was in 1915.
It was a derogatory word invented by automotive clubs and dealers in an attempt to redefine the streets as a place for cars rather than pedestrians. In the early 20th century, “jay” was another term for a “rube” or someone from the country who didn’t understand the “big city ways”.
Jaywalking is generally understood to be crossing the street at mid-block, instead of at a marked crosswalk or another intersection.
At a Federal level, jaywalking is regulated by the Uniform Vehicle Code. The UVC is a set of standardized traffic laws that are prepared by the non-profit the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances.
At a Federal level, vehicles are required to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian when they are crossing a road at a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk.
An “unmarked crosswalk” is generally understood to be an intersection, when the pedestrian is crossing the road facing a green light. Assume that an intersection is an “unmarked crosswalk” unless there is a sign otherwise restricting pedestrian crossings.
What Are Pedestrians Actually Allowed to Do?
There are several provisions that define a pedestrian’s rights in the Uniform Vehicle Code:
- Notwithstanding any other provision, drivers are required to exercise “due care” to avoid hitting any pedestrian or rider of a human powered vehicle (like a bicycle).
- Pedestrians are allowed to walk on the highways, as long as they’re walking on the shoulder or to the extreme edge of the highway.
- When walking on the shoulder or edge of a two-way street, pedestrians should walk only on the left side of the roadway.
- Pedestrians are required to follow the directions of any official traffic control device, as defined by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. This includes every posted sign and all traffic signals.
- Keep in mind that pedestrians are also regulated by traffic lights. When a pedestrian is crossing an intersection with the flow of traffic facing a green light, vehicles are required to give the right-of-way to the pedestrian. This includes vehicles that may be trying to turn, and cross a sidewalk. Vehicles crossing the sidewalk need to give right-of-way to all foot traffic on that sidewalk – whether the crosswalk is “marked” or not.
- The only time pedestrians should not cross at a green light is if there is a pedestrian-specific light stating otherwise. Then that pedestrian light’s directions take priority for foot traffic.
- Pedestrians who are intersecting traffic and who have a sole green turn arrow signal do not have the right-of-way.
- Pedestrians who are facing a yellow light should not attempt to cross the street if they are still on the curb. Only pedestrians already in the roadway should continue crossing.
- When drivers are turning right at a red light, they are still required to give right-of-way to crossing pedestrian traffic.
- It is illegal for a pedestrian to step in front of a vehicle in a way that creates an “immediate hazard”.
- Pedestrians should never cross a street diagonally unless directed to by traffic-control devices.
- Pedestrians are also required to give right-of-way to emergency vehicles.
Is Jaywalking Illegal in Florida?
Jaywalking is not “illegal”, but you need to be careful if you’re crossing somewhere other than a marked crosswalk or at an intersection. In addition to Federal laws, section 316.130 of the 2016 Florida Statutes has some additional regulations about pedestrian foot traffic.
- Statute 316.130(10) states that pedestrians are legally allowed to cross the roadway at a right angle even when there is no marked crosswalk, but they have to give the right-of-way to vehicles.
- If a pedestrian has forgotten to activate flashing crossing signals, motorists are still required to stop.
- What’s not legal is for a pedestrian to walk along the road, or areas “paved for vehicular traffic”, in situations where there is a sidewalk.
- It is illegal for a pedestrian to cross while facing a red light.
- If a pedestrian chooses to cross a roadway where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing has been provided, then the pedestrian is required to yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.
Jaywalking is a non-criminal traffic infraction, according to s. 316.130(19).
Jaywalking in Tampa
Tampa has quite a few ordinances that apply to pedestrians. Many of them are not the direct responsibility of pedestrians. For example, there are ordinances that deal with the blocking of sidewalks by businesses and utility companies intended to protect the lawful rights of pedestrians.
The city also prioritizes pedestrian access with a variety of ordinances requiring sidewalks of a certain width in front of businesses and new homes.
In Tampa, Sec. 25-185 says that bicycles are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians when they are riding on the sidewalk.
Although the state-level statutes only require a $15 fine, the fines for jaywalking in Tampa are around $50. Tickets for jaywalking in Ybor can be over $100.
Jaywalking in St. Petersburg
There are no unique laws governing vehicles in St. Petersburg that are not present at the state level.
St. Petersburg has an average of 10-12 pedestrians killed per year. Because of this, the Florida Department of Transportation awarded the city a $74,000 grant to combat pedestrian accidents. This grant involves cracking down on jaywalking by having the St. Petersburg Police Department increase enforcement of their jaywalking laws.
Jaywalking in Clearwater
There were 93 pedestrians involved in crashes in 2016. Because of this, the Clearwater Police Department began a new crackdown on jaywalking in 2017.
This is also part of the grand program by the Florida Department of Transportation. On April 1st, the fines for jaywalking were increased to $62.50 for jaywalking in Clearwater.
Call Clark Law Today for Your Free Legal Consultation if You’ve Been Involved in a Jaywalking Accident
If you or a loved one has been involved in a pedestrian accident, please contact our law offices today. Call our office now at (855) 680-4911 to schedule your free consultation or fill out the initial query form on our website.Contact Us