California drivers face many road hazards, perhaps the biggest being other drivers. Those who drink and drive, text while driving and speed in areas they shouldn’t cause billions of dollars in damages, medical care and emergency expenses every year. Drivers should understand that they are taking their lives in their own hands whenever they are behind the wheel. Perhaps pedestrians need to understand the risks as well.
According to the state Dept. of Motor Vehicles, pedestrian deaths account for 22 percent of traffic fatalities each year. Drivers need a raised awareness of the threat they pose to pedestrians and take these safety tips to heart.
Pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right-of-way, and drivers should respect that. Always stop for a pedestrian, even if the crossing is not at an intersection or the crossing does not have signal lights or painted lines. Pedestrians crossing at corners in residential areas may not have a marked crosswalk, but they are still considered to be using one at those points. Be sure to allow extra time for these pedestrians to cross:
- Seniors, who may or may not have walking aids
- Those with disabilities and in wheelchairs
- Children with and without an adult
Never pass a car stopped at a crosswalk—the driver may see something you don’t, such as a pedestrian who is crossing the street. Stop at the crosswalk and check for yourself that the crosswalk is empty before proceeding. It is also important to stop before the crosswalk, so a pedestrian has room to cross. If they have to move around a car blocking the crosswalk, they may be at risk from passing cars.
If you have an electric or hybrid car, take extra precautions at crosswalks. Pedestrians—especially the blind—may not be aware of you due to the quietness of the engine. Wait for pedestrians to make eye contact with you, or until you know they are not going to enter the intersection. A blind pedestrian leads with his or her cane; if they are ready to enter the sidewalk, the cane will be outstretched to the ground ahead of the person.
This article contains general information and is not intended to be legal advice.