Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

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Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

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Posted By DAM Firm | August 4 2021 | Personal Injury

Pedestrian accidents often result in severe injuries, which is why the state of California and most municipalities have various laws in place to protect the safety of those walking on or around the roadway. However, do pedestrians always have the right of way? 

Here, our Orange County personal injury attorneys look into right-of-way laws and examine how they apply to pedestrians. It is crucial for drivers and pedestrians alike to understand their responsibilities on the roadway to ensure that everyone remains safe. 

california pedestrian laws right of way

Right of Way Laws for Pedestrians in California

California defines a pedestrian as “a person on foot or who uses a conveyance such as roller skates, skateboard, etc., other than a bicycle.” 

Drivers in California are required to allow pedestrians the right of way according to the laws of the state. For example, drivers are required to exercise caution and reduce speed anytime they approach any type of pedestrian crossing or other crosswalks. Drivers cannot pass a vehicle already stopped at a crosswalk, and they cannot drive on sidewalks unless they are crossing it to enter a driveway or an ally.

At Crosswalks

Crosswalks are specifically set aside for the safety of pedestrians in California. Pedestrians have the right of way inside marked or unmarked crosswalks in this state. However, even though pedestrians have the right of way, they are also required to abide by traffic laws in these situations. 

For example, pedestrians have to wait for a light or signal to tell them they can cross at marked crosswalks. At unmarked crosswalks, pedestrians cannot simply walk out into traffic and expect drivers to stop for them. Even though drivers are supposed to exercise caution and slow down, if a pedestrian walks into the roadway at an unmarked crosswalk without first checking to see if there are vehicles approaching, they likely will be liable for an accident that occurs.

At Intersections

Intersections are other areas where all types of traffic converge and where drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians are typically trying to accomplish different goals. Intersections may be marked by traffic signals, or they may not have any signs or signals at all. Drivers are required to yield traffic and pedestrians already in the intersection, when they come to a stop or yield sign, or when they are just entering the intersection.

At “T” intersections without any stop or yield signs, drivers are required to yield to traffic and pedestrians on the “through” road.

When a driver is turning left at an intersection, they need to give the right of way to all vehicles approaching, and they are also required to look out for pedestrians that are walking through the intersection. When making right turns, drivers are required to check for pedestrians who want to enter the cross street.

Working With a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a pedestrian accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another driver, you need to speak to a skilled attorney as soon as possible. A pedestrian accident attorney in Orange County can handle every aspect of these claims on your behalf. This will include conducting a complete investigation into the incident in order to determine exactly what happened. An attorney can examine the case, gather evidence to prove liability, and negotiate with insurance carriers to help ensure you recover the compensation you are entitled to.


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