There are some caveats to this question. If you’re walking on the interstate, then yes it is illegal. If you’re walking on a state highway or county road then it’s not illegal unless there is a statute against it. For example, Kansas states “Where a sidewalk is not available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk only on a shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.”
This is an interesting topic, so let’s continue our journey together and explore some valuable bits around this idea.
What’s The Difference Between The Interstate and A Highway?
Before we get into what’s legal and not legal we need to understand the difference between an interstate and a highway, because these terms will dictate if it’s illegal a bit more.
The interstate is a specific type of highway in the United States that is part of the National Highway System. These roads are designed for high-speed travel and connect states across the country. They are typically multi-lane, divided highways that have controlled access, meaning that there are no intersections or cross traffic. The federal government sets standards for interstate highways and provides funding for their construction and maintenance.
Highways, on the other hand, can refer to any road that is designed for travel by motor vehicles. This can include local roads, state highways, and even interstates. In general, highways are designed to connect cities and towns and may have intersections and cross traffic. The term “highway” is often used to refer to major roads that are not part of the interstate system.
Why Is It Illegal To Walk On The Interstate?
It is illegal to walk on the interstate because it is a limited-access highway designed for high-speed vehicular traffic. Walking on the interstate can be extremely dangerous because of the fast-moving vehicles and the lack of pedestrian infrastructure such as sidewalks and crosswalks. In addition, walking on the interstate can cause traffic delays and hazards for drivers, which is why it is generally prohibited by law.
Imagine that it is a hot summer day and you are walking home from work along the side of the interstate. The sun is beating down on you and you are tired, so you decide to take a shortcut across the interstate to get to your neighborhood more quickly. As you step out onto the road, you see a car coming towards you in the distance, but you figure that you have plenty of time to make it across before the car reaches you. However, as you walk across the lanes of the interstate, you realize that the car is much closer than you thought and is traveling much faster than you anticipated. Suddenly, the driver of the car has to swerve to avoid hitting you, causing them to lose control of the vehicle and crash into the median.
In this scenario, not only could you have been seriously injured or killed by the fast-moving vehicle, but you also caused a potentially deadly accident by walking on the interstate. This is just one example of why it is so important to stay off of the interstate and to use designated pedestrian crossings and overpasses instead.
What Are The Penalties For Walking On The Interstate?
The penalties for walking on the interstate will depend on the laws of the state in which you are located.
Here are a few examples of the penalties for walking on the interstate in different states:
- In California, it is illegal to walk on the interstate, and doing so is considered a misdemeanor offense. If you are caught walking on the interstate in California, you could be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to six months in jail.
- In Texas, it is also illegal to walk on the interstate, and doing so is considered a misdemeanor offense. If you are caught walking on the interstate in Texas, you could be fined up to $500 and sentenced to up to six months in jail.
- In New York, it is illegal to walk on the interstate, and doing so is considered a violation. If you are caught walking on the interstate in New York, you could be fined up to $250 and sentenced to up to 15 days in jail.
It is important to note that these are just a few examples and the penalties for walking on the interstate can vary from state to state. It is always best to familiarize yourself with the laws of the state in which you are located to ensure that you are not breaking any laws and to keep yourself safe.
It’s also good to note that you might
What About Walking On A Highway or County Road?
As mentioned before, it is not illegal to walk on a highway or county road unless there is a specific law against it. In some cases, highways have sidewalks available for pedestrians but if not then it is important to stay as far away from the edge of the roadway as possible.
When walking on these roads, it is important to be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Just like on the interstate, there is a potential for distractions and accidents.
It’s also worthy of note that some states make it a crime to walk on highways when there are sidewalks available. An example of this would be Kansas “(a) Where a sidewalk is provided and its use is practicable, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway. (b) Where a sidewalk is not available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk only on a shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.”
Why Is It Dangerous To Walk On The Highway?
During my trip to New York City, I was almost hit by a lady that was doing her makeup driving down the road. That was one of MANY events that happened but here are a few reasons why walking on the highway is dangerous:
- High-speed limits
- Limited access points for pedestrians to safely enter or exit
- Drivers may not expect to see pedestrians on the road and can cause accidents
- Lack of sidewalks or designated walking paths
These are just a few of the many reasons why it’s dangerous to walk on the highway and not a sidewalk that has been designated.
How to Walk On The Highway Safely
I understand not every road has sidewalks to safely walk on. That’s why I want to go into this section and detail a few safety tips if you decide to walk on the highway but I will like to say that it’s generally not safe to walk on the highway under any circumstances. Highways are designed for high-speed vehicular traffic and do not have the necessary infrastructure to support pedestrians, such as sidewalks and crosswalks. Walking on the highway can be extremely dangerous because of the fast-moving vehicles and the lack of protection for pedestrians.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to walk on the highway, there are a few steps you can take to try to stay safe:
- Stay as far away from the edge of the road as possible. This will give you more time to react if a vehicle approaches and will also make it more visible to drivers.
- Walk facing traffic so that you can see oncoming vehicles. This will give you more time to react if a vehicle approaches and will also make it easier for drivers to see you.
- If possible, try to walk on the shoulder of the road rather than in the lanes of traffic. The shoulder is the area next to the road that is usually gravel or grass and is intended for emergency use.
- Do not walk on the highway if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Your judgment and reflexes will be impaired, making it more difficult to stay safe on the road.
Again, it is always best to avoid walking on the highway whenever possible and to use designated pedestrian crossings and overpasses instead. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to walk on the highway, do your best to stay safe and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
To summarize, it is not necessarily illegal to walk on the highway but there can be potential dangers and penalties. It is important to consider safer alternatives and only walk on the highway in cases of emergencies or lack of other options. Always prioritize your safety and follow any state laws or regulations. Happy (and safe) walking!