Pedestrian accidents are a major issue on the roads in California. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, pedestrian accidents were a factor in over 14,000 crashes in California in 2020 alone (https://www.ots.ca.gov/Media_and_Research/Statistics/Pedestrian.asp). These accidents can have serious consequences, including fatalities, injuries, and property damage. In this article, we will explore the causes of pedestrian accidents, the consequences of pedestrian accidents, and the laws in place to prevent these types of accidents.
Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
There are many factors that can contribute to pedestrian accidents. Some of the most common causes include distracted driving, failing to yield to pedestrians, speeding, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Pedestrians also bear some responsibility for their own safety, and can increase their risk of being involved in an accident by not paying attention to their surroundings, crossing the street outside of designated crosswalks, or wearing dark clothing at night.
Consequences of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents can have serious consequences for those involved. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2020, over 6,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States (https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety). In addition to fatalities, pedestrian accidents can also result in serious injuries and property damage. These types of accidents can have a significant impact on the physical, emotional, and financial well-being of those involved.
Laws Preventing Pedestrian Accidents
To prevent pedestrian accidents, the state of California has implemented several laws. According to the California Vehicle Code, drivers are required to yield to pedestrians when they are crossing the street within a marked or unmarked crosswalk (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH§ionNum=21950). Additionally, California has a “vulnerable road user” law that imposes stricter penalties on drivers who violate traffic laws and cause accidents involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH§ionNum=21960). These laws are in place to help protect pedestrians and promote safer roadways for all users.
Important Pedestrian Accident Code Sections
California has several vehicle code sections regarding and protecting pedestrians in accidents. This includes:
- California Vehicle Code section 21950: Requires drivers to yield to pedestrians when they are crossing the street within a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
- California Vehicle Code section 21960: Imposes stricter penalties on drivers who violate traffic laws and cause accidents involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users.
- California Vehicle Code section 21966: Requires drivers to exercise due care and caution when driving near pedestrians and to give warning by sounding their horn if necessary.
- California Vehicle Code section 21970: Prohibits drivers from overtaking or passing a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to cross the street.
- California Vehicle Code section 21971: Requires drivers to come to a complete stop before reaching a pedestrian crossing when there is a red or yellow flashing signal or a school patrol signal.