In North Carolina, most of the rules governing pedestrians and their rights are common sense that has been codified into the North Carolina General Statutes. There are rules governing who has the right of way at crosswalks and what a pedestrian’s responsibilities are when crossing the street other than at a crosswalk.
§ 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. (1937, c. 407, s. 134; 1973, c. 1330, s. 32.)
Essentially, that means that pedestrians in crosswalks get the right of way and the drivers must yield. It also means that if one driver has stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the street, other drivers should take care not to pass or overtake the stopped driver. It would be dangerous for the pedestrian and illegal for the passing car. Additionally, it means that all drivers that are crossing over a sidewalk to enter or exit a building entrance, private road, or driveway must yield to a pedestrian or bicycle.
What about crossing the street and not using the crosswalk?
North Carolina’s General Assembly wants to encourage pedestrians to cross at intersections and not in the middle of the block and to use crosswalks. This promotes public safety. The general rule is when possible to cross at the crosswalk. Where there is no crosswalk at the intersection, the pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to the drivers and specifically pedestrians are prohibited from crossing the street in the middle of the block between two crosswalks.
What are the driver’s responsibilities?
At all times, any driver in North Carolina is required to use due caution in driving. This is true whether or not he technically has the right-of-way.
North Carolina DOT has provided a pamphlet more fully outlining the rules of the road. https://www.ncdot.gov/bikeped/download/bikeped_laws_Ped_Laws.pdf. However, if you have been injured in an accident, you should seek the advice of an attorney to help you know your rights and your responsibilities.