California is home to some of the most congested traffic in the country, but countless pedestrians are also making their way through California streets every day. Drivers need to exercise care around pedestrians, and it’s a wise idea to know the laws concerning pedestrians’ right-of-way on California roads. Pedestrians should also know a few best practices to avoid serious accidents and injuries. If you have questions or think you have a case, contact a Santa Ana pedestrian accident lawyer for a free consultation.
California Right of Way Law
California Vehicle Code 21950 outlines pedestrians’ right-of-way and duties while traveling on California roads. While the posted traffic signals, road lanes, and signs all help drivers anticipate the actions of other drivers, it is never safe to assume that another driver will yield the right-of-way to others. However, drivers should always do their best to yield the right-of-way to other drivers if it prevents accidents, and it is essential for all drivers to respect the right-of-way of pedestrians nearby.
It is important first, and foremost, to safely follow the traffic laws. A seemingly simple violation such as running a red light, an illegal turn, or rolling through a stop sign can be seriously damaging. These incidents disrupt the flow of traffic and make other drivers more likely to make mistakes, or react to a sudden unexpected traffic violation in such a way that it endangers others or causes an accident. Violating the traffic laws often causes a chain reaction that can not only impede the flow of traffic for others, but also result in costly collisions.
Respecting traffic laws is especially important for pedestrians. Pedestrians have a duty of care to cross streets only at approved designated crosswalks and to pay close attention to changing traffic conditions. Jaywalking, or crossing the street outside of the designated crosswalk, may seem innocuous but is actually extremely dangerous. A pedestrian that suddenly appears between parked cars on the side of the street can surprise a driver, causing him or her to swerve and get into an accident, or the driver may not have time to stop before hitting the pedestrian.
Best Practices for Crosswalks in California
Drivers and pedestrians alike can prevent accidents. Since drivers have a higher duty of care on the road than pedestrians, they must exercise additional caution anywhere pedestrians are present. When pedestrians suffer injuries from automobile collisions, the injuries are often severe and can include broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. Drivers can prevent these accidents with a few best practices, including:
- Always yielding to crossing pedestrians. Even if you spot a pedestrian attempting to cross outside of an approved crosswalk, stop and allow the pedestrian to cross. This is especially true at corners and mid-block crosswalks.
- Never passing at a crosswalk. If multiple lanes head in the same direction, do not pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, even if you have a green light ahead. The stopped driver is likely waiting for a pedestrian to cross who you may not be able to see. Passing the stopped vehicle could mean hitting the pedestrian.
- Never driving on sidewalks. Drivers should only ever drive on sidewalks to enter side streets, alleys, or driveways. When doing so, a driver should always yield to pedestrians who enter the crosswalk.
- Never stopping within crosswalks. Stopping inside of a crosswalk can force pedestrians to walk around your vehicle, potentially putting them in harm’s way.
- Checking for eye contact. Pedestrians typically try to make eye contact with drivers when they intend to cross the street. If you are approaching an intersection and see a pedestrian who appears ready to cross, try to make eye contact or use a hand gesture to let them know you see them and it is safe to pass in front of your vehicle.
- Obeying pedestrian-related traffic signs. Look carefully for pedestrian crossing signs and yield signs. These indicators can let you know when you are entering an area with lots of pedestrian traffic.
What Do I Do After Being Injured in a Crosswalk in Orange County?
It’s essential for drivers and pedestrians to know the state’s right-of-way laws to prevent costly accidents. If you recently suffered injuries from a crosswalk accident you believe happened due to a right-of-way violation, an experienced San Bernardino injury attorney can help you assess your options for legal recourse.