Experienced Legal Representation

When do pedestrians have the right of way?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | Auto-Pedestrian Accidents |

Pedestrian safety impacts everyone. However, the matter is even more important in a large city like Santa Ana with over 310,000 inhabitants, according to the City of Santa Ana’s official website. As people navigate the bustling streets, the risk of accidents involving pedestrians is a growing concern, and city authorities are working to curb this risk with its Vision Zero Plan.

The responsibility for safety falls on both motorists and those traveling by foot. Therefore, all travelers should understand when pedestrians have the right of way.

Pedestrian rights and responsibilities

Under California law, drivers must give pedestrians safe and convenient passage in designated areas. Whether walking, using a wheelchair, stroller or any other form of assistance, pedestrians have the right to use marked and unmarked crosswalks at intersections, and drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians within these crosswalks.

However, pedestrians should also exercise due care for their own safety. They should not suddenly leave a curb or walk into the path of a vehicle that poses an immediate hazard. Pedestrians must also avoid unnecessarily stopping or delaying traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

While pedestrians generally have the right of way, they must still comply with traffic laws and regulations. For example, crossing against a red light or jaywalking can result in pedestrians losing their right of way and potentially being accountable for an accident.

Additional considerations for blind pedestrians

Blind pedestrians using a cane or guide dog have the right of way at intersections at all times. Failure to yield to a blind pedestrian can result in criminal charges, including fines and potential jail time.

Fault in pedestrian accidents

In the event of a pedestrian accident, courts or insurers will seek to establish who is at fault. California follows a comparative negligence system, meaning that all parties can receive a percentage of fault depending on their actions leading up to the accident.

Factors such as whether a traveler was in a designated area, obeying traffic signals or acting recklessly can all impact the determination of fault. Even if the court considers a pedestrian partially at fault, the person may still be eligible for compensation under comparative negligence laws.

Clearly, pedestrians do not automatically have the right of way in all situations, but the law does prioritize their safety. By following the rules and exercising due care, all travelers can create safer roadways and reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents.