California Right of Way Laws: What You Need to Know
California’s right-of-way laws maintain order on busy streets.
Failing to yield the right of way often causes immense property damage and bodily damage. Victims usually suffer broken and fractured bones, spinal cord damage, and brain injuries.
However, who has the right of way can be a controversial topic in highly populated urban areas. As urban centers have experienced exponential growth requiring higher safety standards for both pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, California’s right-of-way laws have continued to develop over the decades.
California right-of-way laws have many exceptions to the rules, leading to frequent confusion among drivers. It is essential to understand the many legal nuances.
What are California Right of Way Laws?
Pedestrian Right of Way
Do pedestrians have the right of way? Yes. If a pedestrian fails to follow the rules of the road, the law still requires that motorists yield the right of way.
People on roller skates, skateboards, tricycles, or wheelchairs are all considered pedestrians. Under California law:
- Pedestrians have the right of way;
- Motorists must stop within five feet of a crosswalk to let pedestrians pass;
- Vehicles must yield the right of way to blind persons;
- Motorists are prohibited from passing other vehicles waiting at a crosswalk;
- Pedestrians must follow traffic laws;
Pedestrians are defined as anyone not in a motor vehicle or on a bicycle.
Cyclists Right of Way
Motor vehicle drivers often have trouble spotting bicycles on the roads. Special traffic laws are in place to protect cyclists, including:
- Bike riders must travel in the same direction as traffic
- Bicyclists have the right to take the lane if it is not wide enough for riders and pedestrians
- If a biker travels slower than traffic, they must use the protected bike lane
- Motorists are prohibited from blocking a bicycle path
Riding a bike on the sidewalk may be prohibited in some areas. It is best to check the local rules of the road with the closest county or city.
Intersection Right of Way
Who has the right of way at an intersection varies depending on the scenario:
- At a four-way stop, the vehicle that arrived first has the right of way
- If multiple vehicles pull up to a three or four-way stop simultaneously, motorists must yield to the vehicle most right
- If making a left-hand turn, motorists must yield to any vehicle in present danger
- Motorists must yield to traffic on the through-road when the intersection isn’t marked
- At any stop, vehicles must yield to the first-arriving pedestrian, bicycle, or motorist
Most failure-to-yield accidents happen at intersections.
Ignoring the Right of Way Laws in California Causes Devastation
Every year, California sees thousands of car accidents on its roads. More than 3,000 people lost their lives in California traffic collisions in the last reporting year. Failing to yield the right of way is the 4th leading cause of critical injuries and fatalities.
According to the Insurance Information Institute:
- Failing to yield the right of way caused 3,663 fatal car accidents nationwide
- 8% of all traffic accident fatalities were due to a right of way violation
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
The personal injury attorneys of Curtis Legal Group are dedicated to holding negligent drivers responsible for failing to follow the California right-of-way laws. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car accident, or if you are a pedestrian hit by a car, contact us for a free consultation by calling our central number, 1-800-LAW-3080.
As laws can vary by state or municipality, some drivers may fail to yield to the proper vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian. At Curtis Legal Group, our California car accident attorneys know what to do in a car accident and have years of experience holding responsible parties accountable.