When the term traffic ticket is mentioned, the first thing that comes into most California’s mind is a speeding ticket or a stop sign violation (Californian stop). Not many people associate a traffic ticket with being a pedestrian. However, there’re quite a number of scenarios that can actually earn you a traffic ticket in California when not in a vehicle.
Pedestrian Traffic Ticket Have Real Consequences
There are several pedestrian laws and codes that you need to adhere to while going about your business in California as a pedestrian. It’s important to understand who is considered a pedestrian on the Californian roads. The California Department of Motor Vehicles defines a pedestrian as a person walking on the sideway, roadway or crosswalk, including persons using a conveyance such as roller skates, skateboards or scooters. A disabled person on a wheelchair, tricycle or quadricycle is also considered a pedestrian. Bicycle riders are however not considered to be pedestrians.
As you can see, the above definition of a pedestrian further widens the scope within which you can get a traffic ticket when not in a vehicle. The reason California is so detailed and specific about pedestrians and their welfare is the fact that close to 23% of all traffic accidents in the state involve pedestrians. For this reason, there are traffic laws and codes designed with pedestrian’s safety in mind. The same laws can easily earn you a traffic ticket or make you a subject of a lawsuit.
Understanding How Pedestrian Traffic Tickets are Written
Having said that, it’s important for you to understand and take note of possible scenarios that can potentially earn you a traffic ticket as a pedestrian in the state of California. First off, according to California Vehicle Code Section 21949, the state has a responsibility of providing convenient and safe pedestrian access, passage and travel across all highways and streets, whether by foot, walker, stroller or wheelchair.
Drivers, on the other hand, are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing a roadway on any marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. They are required to come to a complete stop and allow pedestrians to cross before proceeding. This, however, doesn’t relieve you as a pedestrian from exercising ‘due care’ for your own safety. For instance, it’s a traffic offense to suddenly leave the curb and run/walk into the path of a moving vehicle that is close enough to cause a hazard. If that won’t land you in hospital, it will for sure earn you a traffic ticket.
You’re also forbidden from unnecessarily stopping or delaying traffic while using a crosswalk. If you’re crossing the roadway by any means other than the overhead pedestrian crossing, a pedestrian tunnel or crosswalk, you’re required to yield the right-of-way to all vehicles that are close enough to cause an immediate hazard.
You Can Receive a Pedestrian Traffic Ticket in California Almost Anywhere
Another place that might earn you a traffic ticket as a pedestrian is between adjacent intersections controlled by police officers or traffic signal devices. First, at this point, you’re not allowed to cross the roadway at any place other than using the crosswalk. Secondly, it’s a traffic offense to cross at the crosswalk when the pedestrian sign or traffic officer has signaled to stop.
Interestingly, standing in a roadway soliciting for a ride can also earn you a traffic ticket if so doing endangers or inconveniences oncoming traffic. The Department of Transportation or local authorities may also limit or prohibit the use of portions of certain roadways, walkways, or crosswalks by pedestrians. Such restrictions might be marked by barricades or signs, and ignoring them could constitute a pedestrian traffic offense.
Here is another one; unless you’re partially or totally blind, you’re not allowed to use or carry a predominantly white cane on any highway. The California Pedestrian traffic code goes ahead to prohibit pedestrians from using bicycle paths/lanes unless there is no adjacent adequate pedestrian walkway. You may also land in trouble if you ride skateboards on highways, roadways, sidewalks, recreational trail, bikeway, or equestrian trail.
Violating the codes and laws mentioned in this article constitutes a traffic offense and will more likely than not earn you a traffic ticket. As you can see, you don’t really have to be in a vehicle to receive a traffic ticket. Away from the traffic tickets, it’s your responsibility as a pedestrian in California, and pretty much any state, to observe all road signs and codes for your own safety and peace of mind.
For your own safety, always cross the road at crosswalks or traffic lights, and avoid crossing the road between parked cars or in the middle of the block. Before crossing at a crosswalk, attempt to make eye contact with the driver, making sure she/he has seen you before crossing. Wear light-colored/bright clothing or reflective jackets/strips when walking at dusk. At traffic lights, only begin to walk when the “Walk” or “green light” signal comes on. Never cross on a red light or when the “Do Not Walk” symbol is flashing, apart from earning you a traffic ticket, you run a risk of being hit by a vehicle or being sued.