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Safety stops and yielding for pedestrians

Drivers often get a bit frustrated dealing with pedestrians. They feel like the road is for cars and any pedestrians are in the way.

The law sees it differently. Pedestrians often have the right of way and drivers who refuse to yield it are in violation of that law. Here are three key things to consider:

1. A pedestrian legally in a crosswalk always has the right of way.

Most drivers understand this when they're going straight, and the traffic control lights correspond with the crosswalk lights to eliminate any confusion. However, drivers who are turning sometimes forget to look. They have to wait to turn until pedestrians cross.

2. A safety stop keeps people safe.

A safety stop is needed when there is a crosswalk, but drivers can't see traffic from behind it. For instance, maybe the driver is turning right and needs to see when the other traffic clears. To make the safety stop, the driver has to stop behind the crosswalk and then slowly move forward, after all pedestrians have crossed, to see the traffic.

3. Passing cars at crosswalks is illegal.

If another car stops at a crosswalk, whether the driver of the car behind it can see pedestrians or not, that second driver cannot pass the stopped car. It's illegal. This is true even if it's a two-lane road; the stopped car is in the right lane and the other car is in the left lane. That second car has to stop and wait.

Drivers don't always follow these rules and pedestrians get hit and injured as a result. They need to know if they have a right to compensation for their medical bills.

Source: Driverly, "California Driving Test Tip #3: Tips for dealing with pedestrians while driving," accessed Jan. 17, 2018

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