Outer Banks Tips: Crosswalks

By Hannah Lee Leidy

Ah, the weather is beautiful, and everything you could possibly want is within walking distance. What reason do you have not to travel the good old-fashioned way, by your own two feet? Walking is a popular way of getting from place to place on the Outer Banks. And where there are pedestrians, there’s also the inevitable crosswalk. Different towns and different states have their own rules and regulations when it comes to pedestrians and crosswalks. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect at the Outer Banks to help you be a considerate pedestrian and driver.

Outer Banks Crosswalks for Drivers

We’ve all been there: cruising down the beach road, mesmerized by the cottages and ocean views, focused on the other drivers, barely noticing those collections of white lines crossing the road ahead of us. Yes, it’s disturbing how one of the most important things on the road is the one that least captures our attention. Crosswalks are found most often on N.C. 12, and that's one of the trade-offs of having fewer traffic lights on this road. Under North Carolina law motorists must stop or yield to pedestrians in marked and mid-blocked crosswalks. It isn’t uncommon for trashcans and parked cars to be placed around crosswalks, and it can be difficult to see pedestrians (particularly children) around these obstacles. Practice caution and go a little slower as you approach the crosswalks, just in case an invisible pedestrian (or 12) suddenly make a surprise appearance.

At crosswalks in intersections, pedestrians and motorists adhere to the traffic signals. If a pedestrian gets a little too close for comfort in an intersection with a green light, make use of that car horn to give a little warning. If that doesn’t work, get ready to stop.

Crosswalk Tips for Pedestrians at the Outer Banks

I know what you’re thinking: You’re standing at this beach access and the ice cream place is just right across the road. Like right there. Sure, the traffic’s heavy, but . . . No. Don’t do it. Seriously, just walk the 50 meters to the crosswalk ahead. It, to be honest, is your safest and most efficient bet for crossing the street. Instead of hoping kindly motorists from both directions will stop at the same time so that you can cross the street, the marked and mid-block crosswalks are places where drivers are obligated by the law, not their good graces, to stop and let you cross. That said, however, drivers can get distracted, and it may be hard for them to see you. As a result, never assume that the traffic will stop for you. If you’re crossing in a crosswalk, wait until cars slow and stop before you step out into the road. Parents, make sure you keep an eye on your little ones too. When they catch a glimpse of the surf and sand from across the road on a trip to the beach, it’s easy to get excited and instinctively run to that natural playground with little regard for the surroundings.

If you’re crossing in an intersection, crosswalks don’t give pedestrians an automatic right of way. Watch the traffic signals, wait for that little glowing fellow to appear and make sure the cars have definitely stopped before heading to your destination.

These tips seem like common sense for the most part. However, the rates of traffic accidents involving pedestrians peak each summer at the Outer Banks. By observing the rules of the road and staying aware of our surroundings, we can work to create a community of safety for everyone on the road. 

About the Author Hannah Lee Leidy
Hannah Lee Leidy is a senior at Kenyon College in Ohio, where she studies English literature and fiction writing. She was born and raised on the Outer Banks and dreams of drives along the Beach Road and Duck’s Cottage’s coffee when she’s landlocked in Ohio. When not working for O​uter Banks This Week​ or on her major, Hannah Lee works in the radio, newspaper, and The Kenyon Review and spends too much time in coffee shops.