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Do drivers have a duty to protect pedestrians in California?

Drivers throughout the state of California will encounter a variety of different people while on the roadways. While it seems obvious that cars will meet other cars, people also need to remember that pedestrians and bicyclists share the roadways with vehicles. Drivers may often notice pedestrians in or around roadways throughout the state.

When encountering a pedestrian, drivers may wonder what their duty is to protect that pedestrian from an auto-pedestrian accident. Drivers may not want to place the responsibility of keeping pedestrians safe on the pedestrians themselves. However, drivers should know that under California law they have some responsibility in protecting pedestrians as well.

Under Section 21949 on the California Vehicle Code, drivers must yield to the right-of-way to the pedestrian in certain situations. In particular, drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians when those people are walking within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection that is unmarked. Additionally, drivers must take all due care to operate their vehicle safely around pedestrians. This includes slowing down the vehicle or taking other actions to avoid injuring a pedestrian in a street. In other words, drivers must take reasonable action to protect the safety of pedestrians around California roadways.

However, this law does not place all of the responsibility on drivers. Pedestrians also must take their own safety seriously. This law also requires pedestrians to avoid abruptly entering a street or otherwise becoming an immediate hazard to vehicles. Pedestrians also must avoid delaying traffic while in an intersection.

Despite these laws, many pedestrians are injured on California roadways. When a pedestrian accident occurs, the accident should be investigated. If a negligent driver is responsible for causing the accident, that driver can be held responsible for damages. An attorney can provide specific legal advice for victims of auto-pedestrian accidents.

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