Is the Vehicle Code Ambiguous?

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California does not give pedestrian's "right-of-way". The CA Vehicle Code actually gives the vehicle right-of-way while also requiring driver & pedestrian to exercise safety & due care

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety: 

  • 2018: 893 pedestrians were killed on California roadways, a 26% increase from 2014.
  • 2018: More than 14,000 pedestrians injured.
  • Pedestrian deaths rose 26% percent between 2014 and 2018.
  • Nearly 7,500 pedestrians have died in California between 2009 and 2018.
  • California’s pedestrian fatality rate is almost 25% higher than the national average.
  • No state has more pedestrian deaths on its roadways than California.

Pedestrian Safety | Office of Traffic Safety (ca.gov)

Safety tips for pedestrians:

  • Make yourself visible: wear bright colored clothes and carry a flashlight if you are walking at night.
  • Avoid dangerous behaviors: always walk on the sidewalk (no jaywalking), stay sober and make eye contact with drivers – don’t assume the driver can see you.
  • Stay off your phones, talking and especially texting distracts you from paying attention to your surroundings.
  • Look before you step: cross streets at marked crosswalks/intersections, obey traffic signals and watch for turning vehicles.
  • Look left-right-left before crossing a street.

The California Vehicle Code does not give the pedestrian the right-of-way. Rather it requires both pedestrian & vehicle operator to look out for each other!

VEHICLE CODE - VEH

DIVISION 11. RULES OF THE ROAD enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3.

CHAPTER 5. Pedestrians’ Rights and Duties 
21953.

(a) Whenever any pedestrian crosses a roadway....

other than by means of a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing, if a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing serves the place where the pedestrian is crossing the roadway, 

...such pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the highway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.

(b) This section shall not be construed to mean that a marked crosswalk, with or without a signal device, cannot be installed where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing exists.

(c) .....

(2) This subdivision does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for their safety.

(3) This subdivision does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within the roadway.

(Amended by Stats. 2022, Ch. 957, Sec. 9. (AB 2147) Effective January 1, 2023.)

Law section (ca.gov)

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