California lawmakers are very serious about protecting pedestrians, bicyclists, and others using crosswalks throughout the state. Several sections of the California Vehicle Code specifically relate to marked and unmarked crosswalks, including California Vehicle Code §21970.
According to CVC §21970, a motorist is prohibited from needlessly stopping a vehicle in a manner that results in the vehicle blocking a marked or unmarked crosswalk or sidewalk. In other words, a motorist should pay attention to traffic and focus on the road ahead so that he does not need to block a crosswalk if traffic backs up or for any other reason.
CVC §21970 also states that the section does not prevent a motorist from making a right-hand turn at a red light or turning left from a one-way street onto a one-way street. The turn must comply with the requirements of CVC §21453.
Pursuant to CVC §21453, a motorist cannot make a right turn on red if a sign prohibits such turns. In addition, drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians and other persons who are lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk.
Turning right on red and blocking crosswalks are common traffic tickets in California. Each ticket carries a substantial fine of $237 or higher, depending on your driving record, plus one point on your driving record.
Pedestrian Accidents and Deaths Increase Throughout California
Unfortunately, the sections of the CVC do not stop all traffic accidents involving pedestrians. For example, pedestrian deaths increased in Los Angeles even though overall traffic deaths decreased slightly. The number of pedestrians who lost their lives increased by 80 percent in just two years. San Diego County was ranked as having the seventh highest number of pedestrian deaths in 2016.
California held the 15th highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the nation between January 2017 and June 2017. The state was also one of five states that accounted for 43 percent of the pedestrian deaths nationwide for those six months of 2017.
As law enforcement agencies and other government agencies search for ways to decrease the number of pedestrian deaths, motorists may see a rise in the number of traffic tickets issued for violations related to crosswalks.
Therefore, it may be wise to review the Laws and Rules of the Road regarding rights-of-ways, pedestrians, and crosswalks. Pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk, so remember you should yield to a pedestrian, but you should also not block a crosswalk in accordance with CVC §21970. When approaching a crosswalk, slow your speed and look for the flashing lights that warn drivers pedestrians may be crossing. If you believe traffic will stop ahead of the crosswalk, make sure you that you reduce speed so that you can avoid bringing your vehicle to a stop within the crosswalk.
If you were cited with a violation for blocking a crosswalk, reach out to understand more about your options with the citation. Our knowledgable team can help you understand your best next step. You can also submit your ticket for a free review.