Pedestrian Laws in California

Car Accidents | February 2, 2021

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users. When pedestrians and vehicles collide, the results can be disastrous. Los Angeles is an especially dangerous place for pedestrians, with heavy road traffic and busy downtown areas. If every driver and pedestrian obeyed pedestrian laws in California, there would be far fewer collisions. Learn about right-of-way laws in California to better protect yourself as a pedestrian.

Who Is Considered a Pedestrian?

A pedestrian is anyone who does not use a vehicle to get around in a public place. Vehicles include cars, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, e-scooters and bicycles. People in Los Angeles who jog, walk, use roller skates, skateboard or use wheelchairs for transportation are pedestrians in the eyes of the law. Pedestrians must obey all laws that relate to them in California or else face consequences such as traffic tickets or causing car accidents.

Right-of-Way Rules for Crosswalks

A crosswalk is a part of the road that allows pedestrians to cross from one side to the other, typically marked by white lines (marked crosswalk). If the crosswalk is not marked by white paint, it is designated by two roads meeting at a right angle (unmarked crosswalk). Pedestrians generally have the right-of-way at all crosswalks. California Vehicle Code Section 21950 states the following rules for crosswalks:

  • All drivers must reduce their speeds or stop, if necessary, to yield to pedestrians who are within crosswalks. A driver should stop before the stop line, not in the middle of the crosswalk.
  • A driver must stop if a pedestrian is in his or her half of the lane or approaching quickly enough as to be in danger.
  • Drivers may not pass vehicles that have stopped to allow pedestrians to cross at a crosswalk.
  • Even at a crosswalk, a pedestrian should not step off a curb if it is unsafe to do so; for example, if a vehicle is approaching at a speed too fast to reasonably expect the driver to stop.

If a driver ignores a pedestrian’s rights-of-way in a crosswalk and proceeds without yielding, he or she could be liable for a resultant pedestrian collision. All drivers must pay attention to the road and yield to pedestrians at marked and unmarked crosswalks in California. If, however, a pedestrian steps into a crosswalk when it is not safe to do so, he or she may share liability for the accident.

a person crossing the street in front of a red sedan. Text: "Understand California's Pedestrian Laws"

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right-of-Way?

No, pedestrians in Los Angeles and throughout California do not always have the right-of-way. At an intersection with an electronic traffic control device, pedestrians must yield to motorists until receiving the green light or Walk signal. Proceeding into the crosswalk at a red light or Don’t Walk signal is against the law and could lead to a pedestrian’s liability for a collision.

Duties of Pedestrians

Although pedestrians are the road users most vulnerable to serious injuries in accidents, they must still obey certain duties and obligations when walking or jogging in LA. A pedestrian has a duty, for example, to only use a crosswalk when crossing the road between two intersections.

If a pedestrian crosses the road at a place other than an intersection or marked crosswalk, he or she is jaywalking. According to California Vehicle Code 21955, jaywalking is an infraction that can come with a fine of $200. If a pedestrian breaches his or her duties of care and causes a collision, he or she could share fault for the accident.

Get Help From an LA Accident Attorney

If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles or anywhere in California, get help from a pedestrian accident attorney. An attorney can help you understand California’s laws and how to navigate them as the injured party. One or more other parties may be financially responsible for your losses. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible to defend your rights.

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