Pedestrian safety is a serious issue in California. One statistic from the California Department of Motor Vehicles provides that “Pedestrian deaths occur in seventeen percent of all traffic fatalities.” But what is a pedestrian?
According to the current California Driver Handbook Laws and Rules of the Road, “A pedestrian is a person on foot or one who uses a conveyance such as roller skates, skateboard, etc., other than a bicycle…or a person with a disability using a tricycle, quadricycle, or wheelchair for transportation.”
The DMV website also cautions Californians to drive carefully when pedestrians are near because pedestrians may suddenly cross a driver’s path at any time.
With this in mind, the following list of safety rules was recently published by the state in order to provide drivers with helpful tips that lead to better yielding when it comes to our very own California pedestrians:
1. Pedestrians may be at risk walking near hybrid and electric vehicles, because these vehicles are virtually silent while operating.
2. Respect the right-of-way of pedestrians. Always stop for any pedestrian crossing at corners or other crosswalks, even if the crosswalk is in the middle of the block, at corners with or without traffic lights, whether or not the crosswalks are marked by painted lines.
3. Do not pass a vehicle that has stopped at a crosswalk. A pedestrian you cannot see may be crossing the street.
4. Do not drive on a sidewalk, except to cross it to enter or exit a driveway or alley. When crossing, yield to all pedestrians.
5. Do not stop in a crosswalk. You will place pedestrians in danger.
6. Remember, if a pedestrian makes eye contact with you, he or she is ready to cross the street. Yield to the pedestrian.
7. Allow older pedestrians, disabled pedestrians and pedestrians with young children sufficient time to cross the street.
8. Blind pedestrians rely on the sound of your vehicle to become aware of your vehicle’s presence; so it is important that you stop your vehicle within 5 feet of the crosswalk.
I submit that these safety rules are a good jumping-off point, but how many times are the real laws that are written to protect our pedestrians actually enforced?
After reading the list above, I was not surprised by the fact that I rarely ever see drivers in the Bay area adhere to the state’s candid advice.
After all, one has a hard time counting on people to be polite this day and age, much less to practice safe driving while behind the wheel of a vehicle, regardless whether or not pedestrians are in danger of injury.
So what can the average citizen do to protect themselves? I would start by reporting the violations that you see happening to you and your family because you might just save a life. Finally, remember–never count on any driver to yield to a pedestrian on their own! With all the distractions and carelessness going on out there, it is best to stay alert when on foot and of course, have the number of your attorney handy.
For more information on the safety rules above, please see: (http://dmv.ca.gov/portal/home/dmv.htm).