Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

Pedestrians are some of the most vulnerable persons on our roads, and are involved in an inordinate number of injuries and fatal pedestrian accidents every year.  Most of these accidents can be blamed on motorist error or negligence, or lack of a safe walking environment.

Pedestrian Safety

The number of people walking to work, for exercise and for leisure has also increased in the country, placing pedestrians at risk of accidents with motor vehicles.  Walking has been promoted as a safe and eco-friendly mode of transportation, but is not without its risks.  Often pedestrians are at the highest risk of injuries when they are involved in an accident.  These persons have no protection at all when they are involved in an accident with a car, and therefore, many of these accidents end in fatalities.

It is important that state and local agencies in California, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area and Walnut Creek, invest in a safe and friendly working environment for pedestrians.  That includes the establishment of designated crosswalks, more pedestrian friendly sidewalks, and the promotion of pedestrian safety education, especially among motorists.  In the absence of such initiatives, the pedestrian accident fatality toll has been consistently high.

Important California Pedestrian Laws

A pedestrian is defined as any person on foot, or who is using “a conveyance propelled by human power” like roller skates or a skateboard, but not a bicycle. A disabled person using a powered device is also considered a pedestrian.

California laws applicable to pedestrians include:

  • Always walk on a sidewalk if there is one.
  • Walk facing traffic and as far to the left as possible.
  • Do not walk on any toll bridge or tunnel or highway crossing unless there is a sidewalk at least three feet wide and a sign saying pedestrians may use it.
  • Do not walk or jog on any roadway that has signs that pedestrians are not permitted.
  • Only cross at an intersection in a marked crosswalk.
  • Cross in the middle of the road only if there is a clearly marked crosswalk.
  • Obey all traffic signals. This includes the “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” signals.
  • When the light is flashing “Don’t Walk,” it is illegal to enter the crosswalk unless there is also a countdown timer and the pedestrian completes crossing before the timer runs out.
  • When the light changes to “Walk,” look both ways before entering the intersection. A car that is in the intersection when the light changes to “Walk” has the right-of-way.
  • If there are no “Walk” or “Don’t Walk” signals, obey the traffic signals of green, orange, and red.
  • Pedestrian laws apply to joggers, runners, rollerbladers, and skateboarders. Local ordinances may prohibit skateboarders and rollerbladers from using sidewalks.

Pedestrian Injury Statistics in Contra Costa County

  • In 2009 Contra Costa County ranked 21st out of all 58 California counties for the number of pedestrians collisions by average population in the “number of collisions involving pedestrians” category, with 1st being the worst and 58th the best according to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) safety rankings.
  • From 2005 to 2009 there were 110 reported pedestrian-involved collisions in Contra Costa County 104 pedestrians were injured and five pedestrians were killed.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics in California

As stated in the California Department of Motor vehicles (DMV) handbook, “Pedestrians lose in any accident regardless of who had the right-of-way.” Some specific California pedestrian accident statistics the DMV presents in its handbook are:

  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents are the leading cause of death in the state for children ages 8 to 14.
  • Children under the age of 15 account for 29 percent of all pedestrian fatalities.
  • One in 6 traffic fatalities is a pedestrian.

The most recent comprehensive statistics concerning pedestrian accidents in California comes from a study published by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and reports on pedestrian accidents from 2007 to 2013. In 2013:

  • There were 13,083 pedestrians injured.
  • There were 4,637 pedestrians killed.
  • Most injuries occurred in the fall.
  • The majority of pedestrian injuries occurred between 3 p.m. and 8:59 p.m.
  • One-third of children under the age of 14 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.
  • The highest fatality rate was for males between the ages of 45 to 54 years old who had been drinking.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that California, Florida, Texas, New York and Arizona together account for 43 percent of all pedestrian deaths.

  • For the first six months of 2016, there were 433 pedestrian deaths.
  • For the first six months of 2017, there were 352 pedestrian deaths.

Although the number of fatalities decreased for 2017, California still led the nation in the number of pedestrian deaths.

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right-of-Way?

The easy answer to this question is “no.” California has specific laws applicable to pedestrians, and this includes when a pedestrian does and does not have the right-of-way.

Pedestrians have the right-of-way in the following situations:

  • When crossing at an intersection in a crosswalk whether the crosswalk is marked or unmarked.
  • When crossing in the middle of the intersection if there is a marked crosswalk.
  • Crossing at an intersection when the green light is facing the pedestrian or there is a light flashing “Walk.”
  • When walking on a sidewalk, even when crossing driveways.

Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way in the following situations:

  • Crossing in the middle of the road when there is no marked crosswalk. This is called “jaywalking” and may result in the pedestrian being given a citation.
  • Crossing when the light is red or stepping into the intersection when the “Don’t Walk” sign is flashing and there is no countdown timer.
  • When walking alongside the road in the same direction as the flow of traffic.

Even if the law gives the right-of-way to the pedestrian, California Vehicle Code section 21950(a) states that the pedestrian “is not relieved from the duty of using due care for his or her safety.”

Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorneys

If you have been injured in a pedestrian auto accident and wish to speak to an attorney, please call us at 855-262-7735 or use our contact form. Get your free legal consultation today with the Appel Law Firm LLP.