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3 Surprising Facts Surrounding Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws

3 Surprising Facts Surrounding Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws

November 02 2020


Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws In California

In the state of California, an alarming number of traffic incidents involve pedestrians. In fact, over 20% of all these accidents are pedestrian fatalities. It’s a common saying that pedestrians always have the right-of-way. This is not always accurate. These three facts surrounding California pedestrian right-of-way laws might surprise you.

1. Drivers must yield to pedestrians crossing the street, even if they are in an unmarked crosswalk.

The California Vehicle Code 21950 states that drivers must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the road at an intersection in a marked or an unmarked crosswalk. Unmarked crosswalks can be confusing. It’s best for both drivers and pedestrians to use extreme caution around unmarked intersections.

The code specifies that just because a pedestrian has the right-of-way, they are not relieved from the duty of using care for his or her safety.

2. Pedestrians don’t always have the right-of-way.

The same code mentioned above also states that pedestrians may not suddenly leave the curb to walk into the road when a vehicle is close enough to constitute an immediate hazard. What constitutes an “immediate hazard”? The law is not very clear here. Because of this, these types of cases and offenses easy to contest.

Additionally, a pedestrian crossing the street at a place other than a marked or unmarked crosswalk (commonly known as jay-walking) must yield to traffic. These are two common cases where a pedestrian does not have the right-of-way.

3. Drivers can get a ticket for driving through a crosswalk while a pedestrian is crossing.

While the California Driver Handbook reiterates the need for vehicles to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, it does not state that drivers must wait for pedestrians to clear the entire crosswalk before proceeding. In fact, there is no pedestrian right-of-way law in California stating that drivers can’t move forward once the pedestrian is a safe distance from the vehicle. 

It is possible, however, for a driver to still get pulled over and ticketed for proceeding before the pedestrian reaches the sidewalk. These cases are up to the discretion of the police officer, and their opinion may differ from that of the driver.

Mr. Ticket Can Help Fight Your Traffic Ticket

If you’ve been issued a traffic ticket involving pedestrian right-of-way laws or any other charges, it’s in your best interest to seek legal help immediately. We are here to protect your rights and minimize consequences. Give us a call today