Collisions Involving Pedestrians

California is a very dangerous pace to be pedestrian. According to statistics from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), 19% of all fatal car accidents in the state involve a pedestrian. Pedestrians can sustain cataclysmic injuries in a collision with a vehicle. Walking is not equipped with seatbelts and airbags like vehicles or even with helmets and pads such a bicycles and motorcycles. Most of all, the impacts administered during a crash with a vehicle are enough to severely injure or kill a pedestrian. The CHP California Highway Patrol reported finding from 2010 that showed 12,033 injuries and 622 fatalities associated with pedestrian accidents.

California Right -of-Way Laws

California has a set of laws in place designed to protect the rights of defenseless pedestrians. These laws are called right-of-way laws. Many of the fatal and dangerous pedestrian accidents that occur each year are due to negligent drivers who do not obey these laws.

  • Drivers must not drive their vehicles on a sidewalk designed for pedestrians under any circumstance.
  • Drivers are required to stop and yield right-of-way to pedestrians crossing in crosswalks that are either marked or unmarked.
  • Drivers must wait and not pass other drivers waiting for pedestrians at a crosswalk.
  • Drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians exiting a parking lot or drive way.
  • All motorists must proceed with extreme caution when pedestrians are in the vicinity.
  • Drivers must allow ample time for older, disabled and the young to cross the street.

Pedestrians must also follow a certain set of guidelines to be protected under the right-of-way laws. For instance, pedestrians should always cross at a marked crosswalk when available. Designated areas for pedestrians and sidewalks are the safest places for walkers on the road. Being able to file a legal claim hinges on drivers and pedestrians being where they are supposed to be.

Simple safety suggestions can save lives in pedestrian accidents. Wearing bright and reflective clothing when walking in traffic at night can make pedestrians easier to see. Lighting is equally important. Walking at night in poorly lit areas is not advised. Walking while under the influence of alcohol can be dangerous as well. An intoxicated person can walk into traffic, off of high places or fall into holes.

A level of driver negligence may be present if a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle. Speeding or driving unsafely can cause a driver to hit a pedestrian. Street racing, lane shifting and speeding are all considered unsafe. Driving distracted or sleepy can also lead to trouble for nearby pedestrians. Texting, calling, or adjusting the radio can all distract a driver. Driving intoxicated may be the biggest reason people become distracted at the wheel. It can also play a part in pedestrian accidents.

Collisions involving pedestrians are devastating to everyone involved regardless of how they happen. Drivers can take precautions by being aware of pedestrians and their designated areas. Driving safely and responsibly can save lives. Pedestrians should also take precautions when walking amid traffic.