Accidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles in Ontario often occur in crosswalks with a stop sign, and motorists who are unclear about the traffic laws governing these situations frequently cause such crashes. Many drivers believe that vehicle traffic has the right of way at an intersection, and they expect pedestrians to wait by the side of the road until there are no vehicles in the vicinity. While those on foot should exercise caution whenever they cross a road, the law states that they have the same rights as drivers in these situations.
The Highway Traffic Act requires Ontario drivers to come to a complete halt at a stop sign, and they are not permitted to continue until their path is clear of any traffic. Pedestrians and cyclists are considered traffic along with motorcycles, trucks and cars. This means that a pedestrian may begin to cross the street if they arrived at a four-way stop before a vehicle. However, the rules state that pedestrians should not begin to cross unless all traffic has stopped or has time to stop.
While the law may be clear, the vulnerability of foot traffic dictates that common sense should prevail. Pedestrians are not protected by vehicle safety systems, and drivers’ education courses generally teach student drivers to yield to those on foot regardless of the situation. Pedestrian fatalities in Toronto are increasing, and approximately half of those killed each year are senior citizens.
Pedestrians struck by a motor vehicle often suffer debilitating injuries that may prevent them from working for lengthy periods. If their injuries are caused by the negligent actions of others, a personal injury lawyer may file a lawsuit on their behalf. This litigation could seek compensation for their lost income and provide them with the financial support they need as they recover from their injuries.