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Oakland Intersections - Where Cars and Pedestrians Sometimes Meet

Crossing the street can be risky. Pedestrians in Oakland often assume that they have the right of way and can therefore step out in front of oncoming traffic. This not only ignores the laws of physics, but the laws of the State of California.

California Vehicle Code Section 21950(a) provides, "The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection . . . "

However, that is not the end of the story. Just because a driver is required to yield the right of way to the pedestrian does not mean that the pedestrian's work is done. California Vehicle Code Section 21950 (b) states that "this section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk."

There are a lot of dangerous intersections out there - so when you cross the street, don't assume that you have the right of way and that you will therefore arrive safely on the other side. I have represented a number of people who were hit by cars when they had the right of way, and the injuries car range from scarring to serious injuries and even death.