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When does a pedestrian in California have the right-of-way?

When does a pedestrian in California have the right-of-way?

It may seem as if there are more cars than people in California. This has the potential to become dangerous when you as a motorist are sharing the roadway with pedestrians. After all, the last thing you want to do is get into a motor vehicle accident. As a result, you may find yourself questioning when you, the driver, must yield to those who are walking. 

It is important to first note who is considered to be a pedestrian. According to the Laws and Rules of the Road of the California Driver Handbook, a pedestrian is a person on foot. That definition also applies if the person is traveling by:

  •       Skateboard
  •       Roller skates 
  •       Wheelchair
  •       Tricycle and quadricycle as used by a disabled person for transportation

However, you should note that the law also specially excludes bicyclists from the definition of pedestrians. 

As a driver, you must at all times yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, even if there is no traffic signal or stop sign. You must also give the person on foot the right of way whether the crosswalks are in the middle of the street or in corners, and whether the crosswalks are marked by painted lines or not. If you make eye contact with someone who is about to cross the street, this means they are ready to proceed and again you must grant them the right to go ahead of you. 

While pedestrians are required by law to obey the rules of the road, it is imperative to err on the side of caution when you are driving and see people traveling on foot. When turning into an alley or driveway, give the right of way to anyone walking across that alley or driveway. If you see a vehicle stopped ahead of you at a crosswalk, you should not pass it, as there may be a pedestrian crossing the street who is not visible to you. 

This information is provided solely to help you understand more about California vehicle law and should not be interpreted as legal advice. 




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