California Pedestrian Laws

Everyone is a pedestrian some of the time. Even if the extent of your outdoor walking is simply the trek from your parking spot to the entrance of a store, anytime you’re on foot near moving vehicles, it’s important to know California’s basic pedestrian laws. Knowing the laws helps both drivers and pedestrians avoid accidents and injuries. 

If you end up being involved in a pedestrian accident, California’s pedestrian laws can have a direct impact on which person is at fault and how much injury compensation you’re eligible to recover in an insurance claim or lawsuit. 

California Pedestrian Rights at Crosswalks

Crosswalks are designed specifically to protect pedestrian safety. Unfortunately, crosswalks are also one of the most common places where a pedestrian accident is likely to occur. When pedestrians have to share the road with larger vehicles, it’s important that everyone involved knows California laws and gives the road their full attention. 

It can be easy to forget basic right-of-way laws, especially if it’s been a few years or decades since you attended a driver’s education class. It’s also an unfortunate reality that, much of the time, drivers and pedestrians fall victim to distraction, and often, the result is an accident. 

California’s crosswalk laws are outlined in the state’s vehicle code. Crosswalk laws both drivers and pedestrians should know include: 

  • Pedestrians have right-of-way at both marked and unmarked crosswalks
  • At intersections, pedestrians must cross at the crosswalk
  • Drivers cannot block a crosswalk while waiting at an intersection
  • Pedestrians cannot stop in the middle of a crosswalk
  • Pedestrians cannot step into the path of an oncoming car at a crosswalk
  • When crossing the street in other places, pedestrians must yield to vehicles

Generally, California laws tend to favor pedestrians in most situations. Drivers are expected to show care and yield to pedestrians, even if they’re crossing illegally. 

California Pedestrian Rights on Sideways

Most of California’s pedestrian laws concern situations involving crosswalks. Those laws cover where and how pedestrians can cross the street. However, there are a few additional laws that specifically address sidewalk use and California pedestrians. 

Pedestrians generally have the right-of-way while walking on the sidewalk. That includes places where sidewalks cross driveways, parking lot entrances, and alleys. A car entering or exiting an entrance or exit that intersects with a sidewalk must watch for and yield to pedestrians using the sidewalk.

Other California Pedestrian Laws to Know

In casual use, “pedestrian” typically means someone walking on foot. However, it’s important to understand that the California Vehicle Code interprets the word more broadly. 

In the context of pedestrian rights, individuals who are considered “pedestrians” include people who are walking, running, or jogging. However, the term applies equally to individuals using: 

  • Skateboards
  • Scooters
  • Wheelchairs
  • Roller skates
  • Roller blades

The term “pedestrian” even applies to people who use winter-weather equipment like skis, ice skates, and snowboards. 

If a person is using a bicycle or motorized vehicle like an e-scooter, they aren’t considered to be a pedestrian. The exception here is motorized wheelchairs. If a person is using a motorized mobility device like an electric wheelchair because it’s necessary for mobility assistance, they’re considered to be a pedestrian under California law.

One final exception worth noting is that, like many states, California makes certain exceptions for blind pedestrians. Drivers are expected to always show care and yield the right-of-way to blind pedestrians, even if they’re breaking a general pedestrian rule, like crossing in the middle of the road instead of at a crosswalk. 

California Pedestrian Laws and Accident Liability

Cars, trucks, SUVs, and even motorcycles can do serious damage when they collide with a pedestrian. Because of this safety risk, drivers are expected to show care and yield to pedestrians when necessary. 

Even when a pedestrian breaks a right-of-way law, the operator of a motor vehicle is expected to yield. That applies to cyclists and anyone using a motorized transportation device, in addition to motor vehicle drivers. 

However, whether a pedestrian was breaking the law becomes relevant after a pedestrian accident occurs. An injured pedestrian can attempt to recover injury compensation through the driver’s insurance policy of the driver involved in the accident. 

California is an at-fault state. That means before an insurance company pays out for pedestrian injuries, they’ll consider whether the pedestrian was partially at fault for the crash. 

If the insurance company discovers that the pedestrian was breaking a pedestrian law at the time the accident happened, that knowledge can be used to significantly reduce the amount of injury compensation the pedestrian is eligible to recover. 

Protecting Yourself After a California Pedestrian Crash 

Knowing California’s basic pedestrian laws can help both pedestrians and drivers avoid accidents on California roads. Pedestrians, in particular, should be aware of these laws and make sure to follow them at all times.

If you’re ever unfortunate enough to end up involved in a pedestrian accident, being on the right side of the law can protect your finances when you need to recover injury compensation.

Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, LLP. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including cartruck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, LLP. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!