California Motor Vehicle Code 21954
Driving Near Pedestrians Outside Crosswalks
California vehicle code 21954 explains the the way pedestrians and vehicles must coexist on the road. Pedestrians have the right of way only when traveling within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. All other instances require pedestrians to yield the right-of-way to vehicles on the roadway. Doing otherwise could create an immediate hazard that might result in serious personal injury.
California, however, instills in its laws the necessary due care toward pedestrians. This means that even though pedestrians may not always have the right of way, vehicles must use utmost caution around pedestrians, and avoid hazards even if they arise because of pedestrians traveling unlawfully.
Pedestrians may jay walk and cross a road outside of a legally drawn crosswalk. Jaywalking is penalized in certain areas and can result in a fine for the pedestrian doing so, but this may not be the biggest problem jaywalking involves. If a driver were to refuse to yield to a jaywalking pedestrian in order to uphold the driver's right-of-way, collision with the pedestrian could end in fatality. California law does not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of pedestrians.
It is in driver's best interest to always be alert as possible on the road and to pay special attention to those who are traveling outside of a vehicle. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other low speed vehicles are vulnerable to the force and weight of other faster vehicles on the road, and often will bare the serious injury in cases of collision.