A basic principle of pedestrian safety is walking on sidewalks. However, not every street has a sidewalk. Sometimes, even streets in urban and city areas don’t have sidewalks. This can cause catastrophic collisions between vehicles and pedestrians which can lead to traffic fatalities.
If you familiarize yourself with safety tips for pedestrians and California laws regarding walking where sidewalks don’t exist, you may be able to avoid pedestrian accidents and expensive injuries.
Where Must A Pedestrian Walk When There Are No Sidewalks?
California Vehicle Code 21956 instructs pedestrians where to walk when no sidewalks are available: “close to the pedestrian’s left-hand edge of the roadway.”
A California Highway Patrol spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that the reason for this is so pedestrians can see oncoming traffic. The spokesperson said that if you can see oncoming vehicles because you are facing oncoming traffic, you may have enough time to take evasive action.
California Vehicle Code 21956 also states that when crosswalks or other ways of safely crossing roadways aren’t available, or when vehicle traffic or conditions make it unsafe to cross the road, pedestrians may walk close to the roadway’s right-hand edge.
In addition, because of a bill that was signed into law in September 2022, peace officers shall not stop crossing pedestrians who are not crossing a road at marked crosswalks or unmarked crosswalks for jaywalking unless the pedestrians are creating “an immediate danger of a collision.”
Pedestrian Safety Tips
Walk On Sidewalks When Available
Sidewalks are the safest place you can walk when they are available. Walk facing traffic, as close as you can to the left side of the road when sidewalks are not available. You can’t see vehicles about to hit you if you’re walking in the same direction as the vehicles. Keep off of restricted zones such as freeways.
Distracted drivers are unfortunately all too common. You should always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t let your vision get blocked by hats or clothing. Don’t let your cell phone distract you. Making eye contact with the drivers of vehicles can let you know if they can see you or not.
You can make yourself stand out by wearing clothes with bright colors and reflective materials. Carrying a flashlight can help, as well, when you’re in dark areas. A flashlight can make you more visible and assist you in seeing where you’re walking.
Cross Streets At Intersections
Crossing the road between blocks can be very tempting, especially with California’s new relaxed jaywalking enforcement. However, most injuries occur when crossing mid-block. It is much safer to cross safely using crosswalks and traffic signals, especially in areas with heavy traffic flow. Pay attention to traffic control devices when crossing at intersections.
Avoid Drugs And Alcohol
Drugs and alcohol can strongly impair you when it comes to making good decisions and walking safely. Even over-the-counter drugs can impair these abilities. Always read all medication labels so you’re aware of drugs’ side effects.
Be Very Careful At Intersections
A lot of drivers don’t yield right-of-way when they turn onto different streets at intersections. Watching and following pedestrian signals can keep pedestrians safe.
Look Each Way
Before you cross the road, you should look left, then look right, then look left again. Make sure your eyes stay open while crossing. Know that drivers may not see you when they are in your field of vision.
Keep An Eye On Parked Vehicles
Parking lots are a lot more dangerous than you may think. Most drivers’ views are limited while they back out of parking spots. Drivers often don’t expect someone to be walking behind their vehicles, so you always need to pay extra attention in parking lots.
Don’t Use Your Phone
Don’t let yourself be distracted by your cell phone while walking near traffic. It’s especially important not to let yourself be distracted by texting or the internet while walking near traffic. It is very difficult to look out for obstacles and traffic if you are using your phone while walking. Remain aware of your surroundings at all time to reduce dangers and risks.
Pedestrian Safety Tips For Drivers
In order to reduce the risk of colliding with pedestrians, drivers should:
Look Out For Pedestrians
Always look out for pedestrians. You should be especially vigilant in looking out for pedestrians in areas pedestrians are common in, like near schools or parks, or in urban locations. Know that pedestrians might not always use crosswalks to cross the street.
Don’t Get Distracted
Distracted driving is one of the top causes of pedestrian accidents. If you’re talking to someone in your car, changing your music or using your cell phone, you’re much more unlikely to notice pedestrians around a corner or crossing the road. Wait until you reach a destination or pull over before taking care of tasks such as these.
Don’t Pass A Stopped School Bus
Never pass a school bus that has stopped. Children may run into the road after leaving the school bus. It can be difficult to see children around large school buses. You shouldn’t feel silly for stopping behind a stopped school bus, as you’re supposed to do this by law, even when other drivers aren’t complying.
Look Out For Kids
Children won’t always follow rules. Children won’t always cross the street at crosswalks. Children won’t always obey pedestrian signals and signs. It is common for children to run into roads without warning and without looking. Be especially alert for kids in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and on residential streets.
Follow Traffic Signals And Signs
Drivers have to be aware of pedestrians signals and signs, and drivers need to yield the right of way to any pedestrians. You should always observe any signs indicating you need to yield, stop, travel only one way or watch for pedestrians.
Look Before Turning
A pedestrian won’t always be in front of you while you are traveling straight. They can be in crosswalks when you turn. When preparing to turn, always look for pedestrians who are crossing, or who are preparing to cross. Make eye contact with them. Yield the right of way to them.
Always Look Before Backing Up
Always look behind you for pedestrians before you back up. Check your surroundings, your side mirrors and your rear view mirror. Be especially aware of the possibility of children running behind you unexpectedly. Exercise special caution in parking lots and driveways.
Follow The Rules Of Crosswalks
Always yield to any pedestrians in crosswalks, even when signals or crossing guards aren’t present. Slow down and prepare yourself to stop if need be when you approach a crosswalk. Leave adequate room in crosswalks for pedestrians to walk in. Always stop for crossing guards. Do not try to go around vehicles that are stopped at crosswalks. Do not block crosswalks.
Be Careful When You Pass A Stopped Vehicle
Children can dart out in front of a stopped vehicle. Passengers may open the doors of stopped vehicles without warning. A vehicle stopped at an intersection might be yielding to a pedestrian – don’t pass them unless you’re absolutely sure there are no pedestrians in the intersection.
Don’t Assume Pedestrians See You
You shouldn’t assume a pedestrian can see you, even though it is difficult to not notice moving vehicles. Make eye contact with pedestrians and make sure pedestrians know you’re yielding the right of way or that you’re turning.
Representation For Those Injured In Pedestrian Accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, call us today for a free consultation. We can represent you on a contingency fee basis, meaning we won’t charge you a fee until and unless we recover money for your injuries.
If you can’t afford treatment for your injuries, we can get you to doctors who won’t charge you for treatment until your case is over.
Insurance companies won’t pay you what you deserve for your injuries unless they know you have experienced lawyers by your side who can force them to pay you by suing them and winning. We have been handling pedestrian accident cases since 1990 and insurance companies know that if they take us on in court, they’ll lose.
The last thing you need is the stress of handling a long, complex injury claim on your own after being in a pedestrian accident. Call us today so we can handle every aspect of your case for you while you focus on recovering from your injuries.