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An Overview of Crosswalk Laws in California

Steven R. Andrade Sept. 10, 2021

Sadly, pedestrian-vehicle collisions are a serious safety problem in the United States, including in Santa Barbara. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 6,000 pedestrians are killed in car crashes nationwide each year. Many tens of thousands more people suffer serious injuries in pedestrian accidents.

A significant share of pedestrian accidents happen in or near crosswalks—either marked crosswalks or unmarked crosswalks. At Andrade Law Offices, our Santa Barbara pedestrian injury attorneys want you to understand your rights and responsibilities at crosswalks under California law.

California Law: Pedestrians are Presumed to Have the Right-of-Way

In California, pedestrians generally have the right-of-way. Under California law (CVC § 21950(a)), drivers are required to “yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided.”

Put another way, drivers are required to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks unless California law explicitly states otherwise. It is important to emphasize that the statute applies to both marked and unmarked crosswalks. In California, unmarked crosswalks exist at every intersection where there is a sidewalk present.

Know the Exceptions: Limitations on Pedestrian Right-of-Way in California

As noted, pedestrians are presumed to have the lawful right-of-way at crosswalks in California. That being said, there are some important limitations in the state's vehicle code. A pedestrian does not necessarily have the right to simply enter the roadway whenever they choose to do so. Here are two important limitations on a pedestrian's right-of-way at crosswalks in Santa Barbara County:

  • Violation of Traffic Signals: Crosswalks at busy intersections often have traffic signals in place. This is especially true in urban areas. Pedestrians have an obligation to follow “walk” and “don't walk” signs. A pedestrian who crosses against a traffic signal no longer has the presumed right-of-way.

  • Unreasonably Unsafe Conduct: California law also requires pedestrians to act in a reasonably prudent manner. Under (CVC § 21950(b)), pedestrians are required to avoid conduct that would make themselves an “ immediate hazard” to oncoming traffic.

Pedestrian Collisions Require an In-Depth Investigation

California is a fault-based auto accident state. The law applies to pedestrian collisions. As the state uses a comparative negligence standard, multiple parties may split liability for a single pedestrian crash. Every collision should be comprehensively investigated by an experienced Santa Barbara, CA pedestrian accident attorney who can help you determine exactly what happened and why.

Call Our Santa Barbara, CA Pedestrian Accident Lawyer for A Free Consultation

At Andrade Law Offices, our Santa Barbara pedestrian accident attorney is an aggressive, experienced advocate for injured victims and their family members. If you or your loved one was hurt in a collision at a marked or unmarked crosswalk, we can help. Contact us right away for a no cost, no obligation review of your case. From our office location in Santa Barbara, we represent injured pedestrians through the entire region.