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People living in California usually rely on their cars to get to where they want to go. It’s probably easy to forget that there are millions of pedestrians in the state, as well. According to recent stats from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, 893 pedestrians were killed in the state in 2018, over 14,000 were injured, and the state’s pedestrian fatality rate is 25% above the national average. These sobering statistics highlight the fact that there may be some confusion over right-of-way laws in the state.

The statute governing the right-of-way for pedestrians in California is California Vehicle Code 21950. Understanding the right-of-way rules listed under this statute can be helpful when determining who is at fault during an accident involving a pedestrian and a vehicle. If you have been involved in an accident with a pedestrian, you should contact a skilled pedestrian accident attorney who can help you with your claim.

What Is the Definition of a Pedestrian?

Before examining the right-of-way laws for pedestrians, you should understand exactly what a pedestrian is. A pedestrian is defined as someone who travels on foot or someone who uses skates, rollerblades, skateboards, or similar devices to get around. The term also applies to someone with a disability who uses a wheelchair, quadricycle, or a tricycle for transport.

What Are Some Examples of Right-of-Way Laws for Pedestrians in California?

Drivers are not the only ones who must obey rules when on the road. The following are some of the right-of-way laws that both pedestrians and drivers should know and follow in California:

Pedestrians Have the Right of Way at Marked and Unmarked Crosswalks

Drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians who are crossing the street at a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with an unmarked crosswalk. While this is the law, that doesn’t mean that the pedestrian is completely absolved of any responsibility whenever they get into an accident while crossing the street. Pedestrians still must behave in a safe manner when crossing the street.

Drivers Must Reduce Speed as They Approach a Pedestrian at a Crosswalk

When a driver approaches a pedestrian who is moving within a marked or unmarked crosswalk, the driver must exercise extreme caution and move as safely as possible. The driver should reduce the vehicle’s speed and operate the car in a manner that ensures the pedestrian’s safety. While behind the wheel, the driver should ensure that the pedestrian is able to cross from one side of the street to another safely.

What Responsibilities Do Pedestrians Have When Crossing the Road?

A subdivision within the Vehicle Code states that pedestrians must look both ways and make sure that the road is clear before stepping off the curb. A pedestrian should never step off the curb without looking simply because the pedestrian has the right-of-way.

The Code goes on to state that pedestrians shouldn’t step off the curb if doing so would put them in the path of a nearby vehicle that’s close enough to cause an accident. Pedestrians should never assume that the vehicle will just stop. If there’s a misstep or miscalculation between the driver and the pedestrian, the pedestrian is the one who most likely will get hurt.

In spite of this subdivision in the Code, the driver of the vehicle is still expected to exercise due care for pedestrians who are passing through marked crosswalks or unmarked crosswalks at intersections.

Speak with the California Pedestrian Accident Lawyers at Setareh Law Today

Whether you were involved in a pedestrian accident as the driver or the pedestrian, you’re going to need someone to help you with your next steps. Right-of-way laws have so many nuances; therefore, you need a skilled and experienced attorney on your side to help you with your claim.

At Setareh Law, we’ve helped our clients navigate the complexities of right-of-way laws, and we’re here to answer any questions that you may have. Give us a call at (310) 659-1826, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.

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