Walking to work means you don’t have to worry about getting caught in a traffic jam. It’s a great way to build some stamina while also burning a few calories. It also provides you with the means to start slowing down and develop a connection with the world you live in.
Just don’t think that walking to work is safer than driving yourself. A surprising number of California pedestrians are killed annually. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 972 pedestrian deaths in 2019. Approximately 22% of fatal traffic episodes in California involve a pedestrian. These alarming statistics prompted California lawmakers to pass the “Right-of-Way at Crosswalks” law.
The Right-of-Way law is written up in Code, Section 21950(a). When you read through the formal law, you’ll learn that drivers are legally required to yield to a pedestrian who is strolling through a crosswalk. The law requires that drivers yield to the pedestrian in both marked and unmarked crosswalks. The implementation of the law also requires that drivers use a little additional care when approaching a crosswalk and be on the lookout for pedestrians who may be about to step onto the street. If a pedestrian is stepping onto the street, the driver will have to stop to allow the pedestrian to safely cross the road.
Another issue that’s dealt with in the Right-of-Way law is passing while driving through a crosswalk. Passing while driving through a crosswalk is dangerous for several reasons, including that the passing driver may not see a pedestrian until it’s too late.
The interesting thing about California’s Right-of-Way law is that it’s designed to protect the rights of both pedestrians and drivers. Drivers do have the right away at crosswalks that are controlled with signals, provided the signal indicates that the driver can go. In this situation, the pedestrians are supposed to yield for drivers. However, drivers do have to wait for slow-moving pedestrians who may be struggling to reach the opposite side in a timely fashion, and the driver must be prepared to take safe and evasive action if a distracted pedestrian fails to notice the sign.
Drivers who are caught failing to adhere to California’s Right-of-Way law will likely receive a traffic citation which will involve a steep fine, points, and the possibility of having the state consider revoking their driving privileges.
Pretty much every driver out there has had to deal with pedestrians crossing the street. Most of the time, pedestrians stick to the crosswalks, and follow the crossing signals. However, there are those out there that simply prefer to cross the street whenever they feel like it.
This is often referred to as jaywalking and is a very dangerous thing to do, especially if drivers aren’t expecting anyone to cross. Doing this can easily cause an accident, and depending on how things went down, either the driver or the pedestrian could be found responsible for the accident.
In order to avoid getting into trouble with the law, both drivers and pedestrians need to be aware of California’s laws regarding the simple act of crossing the street.
There Are a Lot of Them
The state of California has several different laws that apply to pedestrians and crossing the street. This article will focus on 10 of these laws. The following are all different aspects of pedestrian and vehicle interactions that can occur.
- VC 275 defines what counts as a crosswalk. A crosswalk is a portion of road that is painted with distinct white lines, or an intersection where the sidewalk could, through imagination, extend across the road.
- VC 467 defines pedestrians. Basically anyone walking, riding in an assistive mobility device, or riding a device propelled by human efforts, except for bicycles, is a pedestrian.
- VC 21456 explains how pedestrians can cross the street with a crossing light. Pedestrians have to follow signals given to them by crossing signals. They also have to let cars that are already in the crosswalk pull through before they begin crossing.
- VC 21950 talks about pedestrians using crosswalks. This law states that cars have to exercise appropriate caution to keep crossing pedestrians safe. Also, this law states that pedestrians have to cross a street in a safe manner. They cannot leave a curb suddenly, walk or run into the immediate path of an oncoming vehicle, or unnecessarily stop or delay traffic. This is why sometimes pedestrians can be held responsible for car accidents.
- VC 21952, talks about pulling into a driveway over a sidewalk. When crossing a sidewalk to get into a driveway or parking lot, drivers do not have the right-of-way. Pedestrians on the sidewalk do. This means drivers must yield to pedestrians.
- VC 21954 states that pedestrians looking to cross a street outside of a crosswalk must yield to vehicles. Pedestrians can cross a street at any location, provided that there are no cars coming that pose an immediate threat to them. Failing to cross safely can earn a person a jaywalking ticket which can cost around $200.
- VC 21955 states pedestrians must use crosswalks at intersections. When crosswalks are present, pedestrians have to use them or else face receiving a jaywalking ticket.
- VC 21963 focus on what to do when there is a blind pedestrian. If a driver sees a blind pedestrian at an intersection with either a cane or a guide dog, the driver must always yield to the pedestrian. They must take extra precautions to keep the pedestrian safe. Failing to do so is a crime and comes with up to 6 months in jail and a max fine of $1,000.
- VC 21966 tells pedestrians where they are permitted to walk. For instance, pedestrians are not allowed to walk on bike paths when there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility such as a sidewalk.
- VC 21970 prevents drivers from blocking a crosswalk. Drivers cannot block a crosswalk for unnecessary reasons. However, drivers can still enter a crosswalk on a red light if they are trying to make a right turn.
Be Safe While Crossing
California is very thorough when it comes to laws revolving around crossing the street. The idea is to keep everyone safe and to prevent an accident. After all, vehicle and pedestrian accidents can very easily be deadly. This is why whenever cars meet pedestrians, both parties need to take the proper precautions. Failing to do so can easily cause an accident, and depending on who was unsafe, can get either the driver or pedestrian in trouble.
What do you think of California’s many pedestrian and crossing laws? Do you think the state has enough? Or, is there something missing? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.