California is blessed with great diversity in many things; the people who live and work here; the variety of terrain, from beaches and ocean cliffs to mountains, forests, and deserts; and a climate that ranges from the balmy subtropical to snow-covered slopes. This makes for an array of choices when it comes to outdoor activities available to residents and visitors and, unhappily, pedestrian accidents often come with the territory. But they don’t have to.
How You Can Avoid Them
Due partly to our environment’s richness and partially that a large portion of our population is dedicated to participating in a healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle, there is more than a frequent opportunity for pedestrians to come into contact with motorists. The outcome is not always positive. Pedestrian accidents are often the result.
One of the first things parents teach children is to be aware of and alert to auto traffic dangers. As adults, we frequently forget to follow this same advice. That is why pedestrians need to make a conscious effort to understand and obey traffic laws to protect themselves.
Right Of Way
State law designates a pedestrian as anyone who travels by foot, wheelchair, walker, or stroller and all pedestrian rules apply equally to these groups of travelers. While pedestrians are generally considered to have the “right of way,” specific rules and laws govern exactly where that applies. These laws can vary from city to city, but it does not mean pedestrians are free to interfere with autos in areas not designated for foot traffic. This would create an environment ripe for pedestrian accidents.
While pedestrians must still obey all traffic laws, they have priority in crosswalks whether the lane is marked or unmarked. If a crosswalk is available, pedestrians must utilize it. Outside of a crosswalk area, a pedestrian has to yield to motorists at all times. It is often against the law for pedestrians to cross a road or street at any point other than a designated crosswalk.
Pedestrians are generally required to use a pedestrian walkway whenever available versus being exposed to motorized traffic. If both a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle roadway are available, pedestrians must use the pedestrian walkway. When walkways or sidewalks are not available, a pedestrian must walk off the main road to avoid impeding traffic if the area is not designated as a business or residential district.
Although motorists are generally required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, there is always plenty of room for error. A motorist may not always see a pedestrian. This is why pedestrians should never assume that their presence is clear to passing traffic.
Pedestrians should always wait for the motorist to acknowledge their presence before proceeding into or across a roadway or street. A pedestrian should also be alert for motorists who attempt to pass a stopped vehicle.
Major roadways and freeways pose an even greater danger to pedestrians due to the higher rate of speed and increased traffic volume. Pedestrians should refrain from using these areas unless absolutely unavoidable. In many cases, it may even be illegal.
California Vehicle Code, Division 11, Chapter 5 outlines your legal rights and duties as a pedestrian. You should familiarize yourself with these, especially if you’re one who frequently spends time walking or running on streets or paths near auto traffic.
Thousands of pedestrians are injured or killed every year as a result of being struck by a motorist. If you’re one of these victims, you should speak to an attorney to discuss your legal rights, particularly if the motorist is believed to be at fault.
- California Department of Motor Vehicles
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Let Laurence Mandell Help You Evaluate Your Case
What to Do in Case of a Pedestrian Accident
Laurence Mandell is the managing partner of Mandell Trial Lawyers, an aggressive personal injury and wrongful death law firm in Woodland Hills, California serving clients throughout the San Fernando Valley, the Greater Los Angeles area and Southern California. Experienced and reputable, our attorneys provide hands-on care and sincere commitment to victims of personal injury of all kinds, including auto and pedestrian accidents. If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, contact Laurence Mandell for a free consultation at (818) 886-6680.