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Pedestrian Laws

What are Pedestrian Laws? 

California pedestrian laws govern where and when people may legally walk in public. The basic rule is found in Vehicle Code 21950, which stipulates that motorists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing the street within a marked or unmarked crosswalk.


Crosswalk laws play an important role in personal injury cases after pedestrian accidents. The person liable for a crash can change if one of these laws has been broken. Through California's comparative fault rules, compensation can be reduced for pedestrians. As such, a pedestrian can be held responsible for the accident even if they did not do anything wrong.


California Crosswalk Laws

California Crosswalk Laws

California crosswalk laws govern when and where people are allowed to walk. Pedestrians are kept safe by these laws. In addition, they aim to avoid interfering with vehicular traffic too much. There are dozens of important laws that apply to pedestrians. 


Some of the most important are: California Vehicle Code (VC) 467, which defines what it means to be a pedestrian, VC 275, which defines a crosswalk, VC 21966, which tells pedestrians where they can walk, VC 21950, which covers pedestrians crossing the road at a crosswalk, VC 21955, which requires pedestrians to use crosswalks at intersections, VC 21954, which tells pedestrians who want to cross the street outside of a crosswalk to yield the right-of-way to vehicles, VC 21970, which forbids drivers from stopping in a crosswalk and blocking it, VC 21456, which tells when pedestrians can cross the street using a crossing light, VC 21952, which covers situations where a driver is pulling into a driveway and would have to cross a sidewalk to get there, and VC 21963 through §21965, which focus on special circumstances to take when there is a blind pedestrian.


California also allows cities and municipalities to adopt their own rules under several state laws.


VC 467: Pedestrian 

VC 467 defines pedestrians in California. California pedestrian laws depend on who follows this definition, which is very important. Any person who: walks or rides a motorized assistive mobility device because they can't walk, or rides something they propel themselves, other than a bicycle (so bicyclists are not pedestrians).


Pedestrians use the following devices to get around: Skateboards, Scooters, so long as they are not electric scooters, or E-scooters, Roller skates, Rollerblades, Skis, Ice skates, Wheelchairs, Motorized wheelchairs, and Crutches.

Bikes, E-bikes, Motorized bikes, Hoverboards, and E-scooters, however, are not considered pedestrian devices.


VC 275: Crosswalks

Crosswalks are defined by CVC 275 as either a place where 2 roads meet at about right angles and the sidewalks extend through the intersection or a portion of the road painted with distinctive white lines.

If there are no white lines on the pavement, pedestrians can cross at an intersection.

No Pedestrians In Bike Lanes

Vc 21966: No Pedestrians In Bike Lanes

Walking on sidewalks or designated walking paths is not considered a violation of VC 21966, which forbids pedestrians from using bike lanes where there is an "adequate pedestrian facility nearby." Pedestrians who encounter obstacles on a sidewalk can use the bike lane to get around them.

Pedestrians Crossing A Street

Vc 21950: Pedestrians Crossing A Street At A Crosswalk

CVC 21950 is the most important pedestrian and crosswalk law, which dictates how pedestrians should cross a street at a crosswalk. Many pedestrian accidents and pedestrian deaths are caused by this California law.


A pedestrian crossing the street in a crosswalk is entitled to yield to vehicles under VC 21950(a). It is the pedestrian's responsibility to yield to vehicles. To ensure pedestrian safety, drivers must slow down and exercise caution.2 Motorists are also required to exercise due care for the safety of pedestrians.


In section (b), pedestrians are explicitly told that they have a legal duty to cross the street safely. Walking or running into the immediate path of an oncoming vehicle, leaving the curb suddenly while crossing the street, or unnecessarily stopping or delaying traffic are specifically prohibited.

Problems may arise as a result of these conflicting legal duties. This makes the specifics of a pedestrian accident important. They can help determine who is at fault. The person found liable for the accident can be made to pay for its costs.

Crosswalks At An Intersection

Vc 21955: Pedestrians Have To Use Crosswalks At An Intersection

The California Vehicle Code 21955 requires pedestrians to stick to crosswalks when they cross intersections that have traffic lights, traffic signals, or police officers. The pedestrian cannot cross straight to the opposite corner of the intersection, unless he or she can cross on a crosswalk. Jaywalking tickets are frequently issued for violations of *21955 . The tickets are not criminal offenses. They are instead fined around $200 for an infraction.

Crossing Lights

VC 21456: Crossing Lights 

A pedestrian crosses a street using a crossing light, an electronic signal. The images either show a green walking man, or the word "walk" in green letters, or steadily blinking red letters spelling out "don't walk."

In VC 21456, pedestrians are required to let cars already in the crosswalk pass through when the crossing light indicates they should walk. There are 2 types of blinking crossing lights: those that include countdown signals that tell pedestrians how long they have to finish crossing, and those that do not.


A pedestrian can begin crossing a crossing signal with this countdown clock when the light is blinking under VC 21456. If there is no countdown clock on the signal, pedestrians should not cross once it is blinking. If there is a countdown clock but no crosswalk, pedestrians must cross before the signal turns steady.

Crossing Crosswalks

VC 21954: Crossing Crosswalks 

CVC 21954 allows pedestrians to cross the street when not at a marked crosswalk or intersection. According to this statute, pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles that are close enough to create an "immediate hazard" for them. However, pedestrians are allowed to cross the street when there are no vehicles nearby. Even though there is no crosswalk, violations of *21954 are another source of jaywalking tickets.

Stopping On A Crosswalk Or Sidewalk

Vc 21970: Stopping On A Crosswalk Or Sidewalk

During a crosswalk or sidewalk, drivers can only stop for certain reasons.

According to VC 21970, drivers are prohibited from stopping "unnecessarily" in crosswalks. This applies both to marked crosswalks and unmarked crosswalks at intersections. A driver is not prevented from turning right at a red light when in a crosswalk.


VC 21952: Right-of-way 

When a vehicle crosses a sidewalk, it does not have right of way. That right belongs to pedestrians. As outlined in CVC 21952, pedestrian traffic must be yielded to. Every time a car turns into a driveway and crosses a sidewalk, this rule applies. Walking pedestrians must be given the right of way by drivers first.

Vc 21963-65: Special Rules For Blind Pedestrians

Special Rules For Blind Pedestrians

Pedestrians who are blind are given special protection by California traffic rules. At all intersections, VC 21963 grants a right-of-way to blind pedestrians with a cane or guide dog. Pedestrians who are blind should be yielded to or have extra precautions taken. In the event that they do not, it is a crime punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Pedestrian Laws 

Pedestrian Laws

A pedestrian accident lawsuit may be affected by these laws because they can determine who is responsible for the vehicle accident.


In California, the question of negligence often determines whether one is liable for an accident. When it comes to pedestrian knockdown lawsuits, determining liability is crucial. Victims can be compensated by the person who was at fault. As a result, medical bills, lost earning capacity, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium are all covered with this compensation.


There are two ways to determine liability for violations of pedestrian or crosswalk laws: Negligence per se and comparative fault.

Negligence per se

Negligence per se

The legal doctrine of negligence per se establishes someone's negligence through laws or regulations. A rule violation or a violation of a regulation can be strong evidence of someone's negligence, which can make them liable for an accident. In other words, it can be a shortcut to finding who is at fault. The benefit of negligence per se is that you don't have to look for negligence in the minute details of the incident.


Verdicts of negligence per se can be brought in pedestrian accidents where laws governing pedestrians or crosswalks have been violated. People who violate traffic laws are often held responsible for the accidents they cause as a result.

Comparative Fault Rules

Comparative Fault Rules

Violations of California's pedestrian safety or crosswalk laws can also reduce a victim's recovery under comparative fault. The jury must assign a percentage of fault to both the victim and the defendant when they were both partially responsible for a crash. According to comparative negligence laws, a victim's recovery is reduced by their percentage of fault.

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