Summer Safety – Pedestrians Take Caution!

A recent article in the Orange County Register highlighted an alarming revelation. The article titled “O.C. can be dangerous place for pedestrians” noted that between 2000 and 2009 Orange County lost 454 lives due to vehicles colliding with pedestrians. With summer here and the increasing use of cell phones by motorists, there could not be a better time to remind pedestrians to take caution when walking. Roadways, especially in metro areas like Orange County, are dangerous for the pedestrians and motorists alike. To prevent a tragic car accident, pedestrians should be aware of their surroundings, avoid walking while texting, and make sure to remain in the crosswalk when crossing a street.

Interestingly, the mantra we all learned when taking our driving test was “pedestrians always have the right of way.” A closer look at the law reveals that this statement is cursory. Under California law, pedestrians who are not in a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard. What does that mean? The pedestrians do not, in fact, always have the right-of-way when it comes to crossing intersections. Only when pedestrians are within a marked or unmarked crosswalk do pedestrians have the right-of-way.

How about bicycle lanes? Bicyclists are like pedestrians in that both use the roadways without a motor vehicle. Thus, it may seem that bicycle lanes are open for pedestrians use as well. In California, that is not that case. Pedestrians may use a bicycle lane but only when there is no adjacent adequate pedestrian walkway.

Summers in Southern California bring out the urge in all of us to get outside and bask in the sun. Whether it be walking around the beach, walking a dog, or heading out for a jog, it is important to be cognizant of the rules of the roadway. As noted above, the rules of the roadway are not only for motorists to follow; they must be followed by all users of the roadway including pedestrians. The rules of the roadway are for our benefit and can help protect us avoid accidents.

To prevent vehicle accidents with pedestrians, both the motorist and the pedestrian must follow the rules of the roadway. So while you are enjoying another warm summer in Orange County please remember to walk with caution!

At Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, we strive to provide information that can be used to protect you and your loved ones from tragic injuries due to the wrongful conduct of others, including those injuries suffered by pedestrians. For more information call our office or visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles website.