Do California Pedestrians Always Have the Right-of-Way?

May 22, 2019
On behalf of The Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg Posted in Pedestrian Accident

California has a high rate of pedestrian accidents. In fact, the California Department of Motor Vehicles states that 22 percent of all traffic incidents involve pedestrian fatalities. Some safety experts have suggested that the confusion about pedestrians’ rights versus the rights of motorists may be to blame for a large number of pedestrian injuries and deaths seen across the state each year. And they may be onto something.

To Cross or Not To Cross

When it comes to having the “right-of-way,” drivers tend to understand who has it and who doesn’t among other drivers on the road. However, the lines become blurred for drivers when you throw a pedestrian in the mix. In a perfect world, people would simply use common sense and decide that if a human being is crossing traffic—even at an unmarked crossing—a driver should yield to them and let them just pass. But that doesn’t always happen, although it should if for no other reason than it’s the law in some cases.

California Vehicle Code 21950 instructs the driver of a vehicle to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians whether they are crossing at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. It goes on to say that “The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.” This does not always happen.

Non-Intersection Crossings

Pedestrians do not always have the right-of-way in locations that are NOT intersections. Right-of-way at non-intersection locations is not given to the pedestrian. And the same code that provides the right-of-way to pedestrians at intersections also acknowledges pedestrians’ role in avoiding accidents. The code reads: “No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

Common sense, courtesy, and just being a watchful driver when pedestrians are around can go a long way toward reducing the number of pedestrian injuries and deaths. Drivers are always expected to practice due diligence and avoid doing harm to others on the roadway. However, pedestrians must also do their part to cross safely and not impede the flow of traffic.

Help for the Injured

If you have been hit by a car or other vehicle while traveling on foot in Los Angeles, you have rights, even if you are partially at fault. Reach out to the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg to discuss your case in greater detail. We have built a solid reputation for aggressive advocacy for injured pedestrians throughout California, and we understand the frustration and stress that can result from serious pedestrian injuries. Schedule your confidential, no-cost case evaluation with our pedestrian accident lawyer now by calling 310-997-0904 or clicking here.


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