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California Right of Way Rules

Car Accident Lawyer – Right of Way Rules

Many car accidents involve rules of the road regarding right of way.  In my over 20 years of practicing personal injury law, many cases come down to whether the injured party had the right of way. Many drivers are unaware of the California right of way safety rules. California has enacted these safety rules to protect California drivers, pedestrians and bicyclist.

Unfortunately many catastrophic injury accidents in California whether your accident is in Los Angeles, Burbank, West Covina, Anaheim or any other city in California most likely could have been avoided if the negligent party simply followed the right of way rules. These rules are defined here by a California car accident lawyer.

1. Right of Way for California Pedestrians

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, accidents leading to pedestrian deaths nationwide totaled 4,735 across the United States. California was the leader in pedestrian fatalities with a total of 701 deaths in 2013. Pedestrian safety in a state with such a large population of drivers is an important issue. A Pedestrian under California Law is a person on foot or who uses such things as skate boards, roller skates or related items other than a bicycle.  Moreover, a disabled person is considered a pedestrian even if they use a walking aid such as a wheelchair, tricycle or quadricycle. An experienced car accident lawyer knows these rules and how they effect a potential claim you have.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles pedestrian deaths amount to approximately twenty-two percent (22%) of all traffic related fatalities. It should be noted that pedestrians can be exposed to an increased risk of harm when crossing highways near electric or hybrid cars as such vehicles are virtually silent giving no warning to an unsuspecting pedestrian. Drivers of cars or trucks should be aware of pedestrian right of way laws and general follow these safety and right of way rules:

  1. Always stop for pedestrians crossing in crosswalks whether the crosswalk is at a corner or in the middle of a street or block.  A driver should always stop for pedestrians crossing at corners whether or not there are traffic lights or signals.  In addition, car should stop for pedestrians even if the crosswalk is not marked by a painted line.
  2. Drivers should not pass another vehicle stopped or slowing down at a crosswalk.  Many times a pedestrian a driver cannot see will be crossing the street.  Drivers should always stop and proceed once the pedestrian has crossed the street or highway.
  3. Most California drivers know not to drive on a sidewalk.  However drivers are allowed to drive on a sidewalk to enter or exit an alley or driveway but they still must yield to crossing pedestrians.
  4. Drivers should not stop in a crosswalk.
  5. Oftentimes a pedestrian will make eye contact with a driver which usually means a pedestrian is ready to enter or cross a crosswalk.   In such situations drivers should stay alert and yield to pedestrians.
  6. Allow younger, older and any disabled pedestrians more time to cross a street and always obey all traffic signs related to pedestrians crossing.
  7. Drivers should be especially aware and educated on how to proceed with blind pedestrians.  Blind pedestrians often times rely on the sound of a vehicle and it is always important to stop within five feet of a crosswalk.  For those who drive electric or hybrid vehicles it will be more difficult for a blind pedestrian to hear your vehicle.   When a blind pedestrian using a cane pulls their cane and steps away from an intersection, it usually is a signal for a driver to proceed.

2. Right of Way for California Intersections

An intersection is a road or highway where one portion of the road, street or highway meets another road.  Intersections may include side streets, freeway entrances, alleys cross streets and any other area where vehicles including cars and trucks traveling on different streets or roads intersect and join each other.

According to the FHA (Federal Highway Administration, intersections accidents account for more than forty-five percent (45%) or all car crashes reported and twenty-one percent (21%) of all vehicle accident fatalities. Consult a car accident lawyer when you have questions about your accident.

Drivers should be aware and follow these intersection rules:

  1. Always YIELD to pedestrian and vehicle traffic already in the intersection or in the process of entering the intersection.
  2. If an intersection does not have any signals or signs such as STOP or Yield vehicles should slow down and be prepared to stop at the intersection.
  3. Always YIELD to the vehicle or bicycle that arrives first to an intersection and if all vehicles or bicycles arrive at the same time, YIELD to the vehicle or bicycle on your right.
  4. If entering a “T” intersection without a “YIELD” or “STOP” sign, drivers should YIELD to pedestrians, bicyclist or other drivers on the through road.
  5. When making a left turn, drivers should always yield to oncoming traffic including any trucks, motorcycles, cars or bicycles.  Failure to yield would be a violation of California Vehicle Code section 21801(a).
  6. When waiting to make a left turn at an intersection, a driver should keep the wheels of their vehicle pointed straight.  If a vehicles wheels are pointed to the left any rear end collision could push a vehicle into oncoming traffic in an intersection causing a potentially dangerous car crash where serious injuries can be incurred.

If you or a loved one is injured in a vehicle accident whether you are a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist or in accident, you should always seek the advice of an experienced vehicle or car accident lawyer to learn who is potentially at fault and your rights to getting compensation for your injuries under California Law.

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