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The operator of a motor vehicle must exercise the care of an ordinarily prudent person to avoid striking pedestrians, that is, a driver must use due care.
Under North Carolina law, pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections and driveways.
However, pedestrians must act responsibly, using pedestrian signals where they are available.
When crossing the road at any other point than a marked or unmarked crosswalk or when walking along or upon a highway, a pedestrian has a statutory duty to yield the right of way to all vehicles on the roadway.
It is the duty of pedestrians to look before starting across a highway, and in the exercise of reasonable care for their own safety, to keep a timely lookout for approaching motor vehicle traffic.
On roadways where there is no sidewalk, pedestrians should always walk facing traffic.
§ 20‑174. Crossing at other than crosswalks; walking along highway.
(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right‑of‑way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right‑of‑way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic‑control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
(d) Where sidewalks are provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway. Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the extreme left of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. Such pedestrian shall yield the right‑of‑way to approaching traffic.
(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.
§ 20‑173. Pedestrians' right‑of‑way at crosswalks.
(a) Where traffic‑control signals are not in place or in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right‑of‑way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at or near an intersection, except as otherwise provided in Part 11 of this Article.
(b) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.
(c) The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building entrance, private road, or driveway shall yield the right‑of‑way to any pedestrian, or person riding a bicycle, approaching on any sidewalk or walkway extending across such alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.
The Emergency Doctrine
The emergency doctrine frequently is raised in cases involving sudden mechanical failures, such as inoperable brakes and tire blowouts. In those instances in which the occurrence requires a rapid decision and precludes reasoned reflection, the doctrine is generally found applicable.
Particularly, in a relevant North Carolina case, a truck driver, who was confronted with a sudden emergency at night by the presence of a man lying in the middle of the icy highway, was not contributorily negligent as a matter of law in turning off the highway to avoid running over him. The driver "acted with such care as a reasonably prudent and careful person would use in such an emergency."
However, when if you are as a driver were aware of the mechanical problem, or should have been aware of it, you may not rely on the emergency doctrine.
Similarly, if your own negligent maintenance causes the mechanical failure, you may not rely on the doctrine.
Moreover, the emergency doctrine will not shield a driver who commits negligence independent of the mechanical failure. Whether the emergency doctrine applies to a situation involving a mechanical failure is often a question of fact.
Index of Relevant Terms:
- Absolute Divorce
- Contributory Negligence
- Imputed Negligence
- Defenses to a Negligence Lawsuit
- Driving and Texting in North Carolina
- Emotional Distress
- Punitive Damages
- Res Ipsa Loquitur
- Short Sale
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Truck Accidents
- Wrongful Death
- Wrongful Discharge from Employment