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Do pedestrians automatically have the right of way?

by | Aug 20, 2021 | Pedestrian Accidents

In the U.S., passenger vehicles typically weigh between 2,000 and 6,000 pounds, with 18-wheelers tipping the scales at up to 80,000 pounds. Because the average American weighs only 181 pounds, it is not difficult to understand why vehicle-pedestrian accidents are often so catastrophic.

To protect pedestrians, California law usually gives them the right of way. Pedestrians do not always have the right of way, however.

What is the right of way?

The right of way is simply the legal authority to proceed. If a person has the right of way, others must yield. This is an important concept in driver safety, as many traffic laws stem from it. That is, regardless of whether there is signage to direct movement, the right of way tells drivers, cyclists and pedestrians how to avoid each other.

When do pedestrians have the right of way?

In California, pedestrians automatically have the right of way when they are in marked crosswalks or in unmarked crosswalks at intersections. Even though pedestrians have the right of way in these places, they must exercise due care when walking into traffic. Drivers also have a legal obligation to be careful when approaching pedestrians.

When do pedestrians not have the right of way?

Pedestrians typically do not have the right of way when they are walking or jogging in other places, especially where their presence is unlawful. Jaywalkers, for example, usually do not have the legal right of way.

While jaywalking may contribute to pedestrian accidents, jaywalkers may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against negligent or careless drivers. Ultimately, though, respecting the right of way is one of the more effective ways drivers and pedestrians can stay safe on the road.