California Motor Vehicle Code 21950
Right of Way at Crosswalks
California Vehicle Code 21950 gives pedestrians the right of way when they are in the crosswalk. Pedestrians who cross outside the crosswalk must yield to cars and trucks.
If a pedestrian is crossing at an intersection, they have the right of way. Not all intersections have marked crosswalks. If there is no marked crosswalk at an intersection, and you see a pedestrian crossing the street at the corner, you must still yield the right of way to the pedestrian.
Pedestrians still have to use caution when crossing. A pedestrian may not run in front of an approaching vehicle and put lives in jeopardy simply because they are standing in a crosswalk. The law specifically states, "no pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard." If the approaching car is too close to safely stop, you should not walk in front of them.
Pedestrians must continue walking when inside the crosswalk. It is illegal for a pedestrian to unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while they are in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
Drives approaching pedestrians in crosswalks must slow down or stop to allow the pedestrian to cross safely. Speeding up to beat them to the crosswalk is illegal because the driver is not exercising due care. Pedestrian safety is more important than shaving a few seconds off your drive time.
If you see a pedestrian cross outside the crosswalk, you do not have to give them the right-of-way. Pedestrians who cross outside the crosswalk are crossing illegally and must yield the right-of-way to passing vehicles. However, you cannot speed up of try to play chicken with a pedestrian just because they are not inside a crosswalk.
If you are stopped behind a car that is waiting for a pedestrian to exit the crosswalk, you are not allowed to pass the car. It is incredibly unsafe to pass a stopped car at a crosswalk. You may not be able to see the pedestrian, and the pedestrian will certainly not be expecting you to come around the cars in front.
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