Semi Trucks and Pedestrians: Often a Deadly Combination

April 7, 2021 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Semi Trucks and Pedestrians: Often a Deadly Combination

Semi-Truck Accidents Involving Pedestrians

Accidents involving automobiles and pedestrians almost always result in severe injuries or even death for the pedestrian, which is simply due to the driver of the car having much more protection than the pedestrian. These types of injuries can be even more serious if the vehicle that strikes them is a large semi-truck. Below, we'll take a look at how common truck and pedestrian accidents are, how Florida pedestrian laws determine right-of-way issues for pedestrians, and go over some safe driving tips for both pedestrians and truck drivers.

How Dangerous Are Truck Accidents for Pedestrians?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost three-quarters of pedestrian fatalities occur in urban settings versus rural settings, which is to be expected, given that urban areas have greater numbers of pedestrians on the streets. Pedestrian deaths accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities in motor vehicle traffic in 2012, and 90% of the pedestrians killed were involved in crashes that involved a single vehicle. The overwhelming majority of pedestrian deaths that year were caused by accidents between passenger cars or light trucks and pedestrians (84%), while only 6% were between large trucks and pedestrians. Although this percentage seems small, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that pedestrians accounted for 15% of all deaths involving large trucks the same year. This means that pedestrians are overrepresented in truck accident fatalities statistics, indicating that pedestrians who are struck by large trucks are more likely to die of their injuries than pedestrians who are struck by smaller vehicles.

Florida Pedestrian Laws

Contrary to the popular belief that "pedestrians have the right of way," pedestrians, in fact, do not always have the right of way. Pedestrians are bound by many of the same laws that drivers of passenger vehicles are bound by--for example, they must obey traffic signals and yield the right of way to drivers when the situation requires.

Pedestrians in Florida have the right of way in the following situations:

  • In crosswalks when the traffic signals permit, or if there are no traffic signals when the pedestrian enters the half of the roadway upon which a vehicle is traveling
  • While walking along the left shoulder of a road (facing traffic) when no sidewalks are present
  • Pedestrians must yield the right of way to vehicles in the following situations:
  • When sidewalks are present but the pedestrian chooses not to use them
  • Crossing a road at any point other than a crosswalk
  • Crossing a road diagonally (unless authorized by official traffic control devices), or in any other way that is not the shortest route to the opposite curb
  • When there are pedestrian bridges or tunnels provided for crossing a street but the pedestrian chooses not to use them
  • When walking upon a limited access highway or the access ramps of a limited access highway

As you can see, the number of scenarios in which pedestrians do not have the right of way is actually far greater than those in which pedestrians do have the right of way.

Determining Fault in a Pedestrian Accident

Fault for accidents between large trucks and pedestrians is usually based on theories of negligence, the same way that it would be in accidents between two vehicles. Negligence is very easy to prove in certain types of pedestrian accidents. For example, if the truck runs a red light and hits a pedestrian, the accident is clearly his fault. However, not all accident scenarios are this simple. Sometimes it is a combination of factors, including negligence by both parties, that results in a pedestrian being struck by a truck. For example, let's say that a pedestrian is walking along the shoulder of a roadway that has no sidewalk, but she is walking on the right side of the roadway, instead of the left, as required by law. At the same time, a large truck is driving down the road and driver does not see the pedestrian because he is texting. Unfortunately, he strikes her, causing severe injuries. In this scenario, both parties are at fault for the accident. The pedestrian should have been walking on the other side of the roadway and the truck driver should not have been texting. In cases like this, liability for the accident will be shared among the two parties according to whatever percent of the fault the court determines fell to them.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians and Truck Drivers

Because accidents involving trucks and pedestrians can involve fault on both sides, here a few things you can do to avoid them, whether you are a pedestrian or a truck driver.

For Pedestrians -

  • Walk on a sidewalk whenever possible
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the roadway, facing traffic
  • Never assume that a driver sees you; try to make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen
  • Be predictable as a pedestrian; cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. This is what drivers are expecting.
  • Do not walk on freeways or other pedestrian-prohibited roadways
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials at night to increase visibility
  • Avoid being out and about on the roadways while under the influence of alcohol, especially at night

For Truck Drivers -

  • Look out for pedestrians at all times, especially in crowded urban areas
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk
  • Always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Never pass vehicles that are stopped at crosswalks; they are stopped because they are allowing pedestrians to cross the street
  • Follow slower speed limits in school zones and other areas where children are present

Contact a Clearwater Truck Accident Attorney

If you have been hit by a large truck while you were a pedestrian, you may be able to recover for your injuries. Please contact the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free consultation by calling727-451-6900 or filling out a contact form online.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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