Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 1983. “The Social Context of Pedestrians’ Rights.” Paper presented to the National Research Council – Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Session on Pedestrian and Motorist Rights, Washington, DC, January 19.


Copyright 1983 Michael R. Hill


Pedestrians' rights are now problematic only as a result of the relatively recent socio-technological development of motor vehicles and their widespread socioeconomic adoption as a transportation mode. Prior to the advent of motor vehicles, the “pedestrian problem” as we know it today did not exist, This is not because pedestrians did not exist, but because it was not yet politically necessary to define pedestrians and their behavior as a “Problem”. To drive home the point, a survey of state statutes in this country reveals that the legal definition of a “pedestrian” is uniformly found within the Motor Vehicle Code of each state. It is in response to the intrusion of the motor vehicle into the environment that it became expedient to legally set forth the characteristics of the “pedestrian” and to codify his/her rights and obligations.