5 California Crosswalk Laws Everyone Should Know

California Crosswalk Laws

Right of way when pedestrian crossing a marked crosswalk
Approaching a crosswalk, whether as a pedestrian, a cyclist, or a driver, requires understanding and respect of traffic laws. If one party fails to respect the law, they put themselves at risk of a dangerous collision. Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents are becoming too common in Southern California. In 2023, Los Angeles reported 179 pedestrian deaths – making up more than half of all traffic-related fatalities in the city. 

Take a look at some of the most important and new California pedestrian crosswalk laws so you can protect yourself on the road. 


1. Who Has the Right-of-Way?

Under California law, pedestrians always have the right-of-way at all marked or unmarked crosswalks. This means that drivers approaching the crosswalk must yield to pedestrians who are walking or about to cross. 

However, pedestrians must exercise caution when crossing any road. Pedestrians “lose” their right-of-way if they engage in any of the following behaviors: 

  • Leaving the curb suddenly
  • Stepping in front of oncoming traffic
  • Walking outside of a crosswalk at an intersection
  • Stopping or delaying traffic when in a marked or unmarked crosswalk


2. Can I Stop in a Crosswalk?

It is illegal for a vehicle to stop in or block a crosswalk. The law does allow a driver to stop in a crosswalk at a red light before making a right turn.

In 2024, California passed a new law prohibiting cars from parking within 20 feet of a marked or unmarked crosswalk. Known as “daylighting,” this new law improves visibility for pedestrians crossing at a crosswalk. Drivers can drop off or pick up passengers near a crosswalk, but may not park. 


3. Who Is Considered a Pedestrian in California?

Adjacent adequate pedestrian facility
A pedestrian in California is defined as any person who is either:

  • Traveling on foot
  • Using a device other than a bicycle, such as a skateboard, scooter, or roller skates
  • Operating an electric mobility device, such as a wheelchair, tricycle, or quadricycle, due to a physical disability

Bicyclists are not considered pedestrians in California. Therefore, they have different rules and rights on the road. 

Special attention must be paid to blind pedestrians. An oncoming vehicle must stop and wait until a blind pedestrian completely crosses the street. Violation of this traffic law can result in fines and jail time.


4. Can I Jaywalk Legally?

Pedestrian crossing marked crosswalk
As of January 1, 2023, you can jaywalk legally in California as long as it is done safely and there is no immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle. Jaywalking was legalized in California under the Freedom to Walk Act, which was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2022. The new law aims to improve pedestrian safety and reduce racial disparities in jaywalking enforcement. 

However, pedestrians are still strongly encouraged to cross the street only at crosswalks whenever possible, and to follow the traffic signals and signs. 


5. Can Pedestrians Walk in Bike Lanes?

Pedestrians are not allowed to walk in bike lanes if there is a sidewalk or walking bath adjacent to the bike lane. They may walk in bike lanes when there is no sidewalk or the sidewalk is obstructed, but they must yield to cyclists and stay as far to the right as possible. 

Pedestrians may be allowed to walk in shared bike lanes or paths, which are marked or signed as such, but they must be aware of cyclists and follow the rules of the road.


Determining Fault in Pedestrian Accidents

Contact a Pedestrian accident attorney
In California pedestrian accidents, the driver is almost always at fault. This is because pedestrians have the right-of-way in most cases. However, if the pedestrian crosses outside of a crosswalk or against a red light, they may be held liable.

California’s comparative negligence laws allow pedestrian accident victims to recover compensation even if they were partially at fault for the accident. The amount of compensation they can recover will be reduced according to their degree of negligence.

When liability is unclear or the other party is not offering a fair settlement, it is advisable to contact an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer for legal assistance.


Los Angeles Pedestrian Accident Statistics 

Crossing the street safely with motor vehicles
Year after year, Los Angeles has seen a rise in traffic accident fatalities, including pedestrian accidents. In 2023, there were 337 fatalities – a 7.3% increase from 2022. Pedestrian fatalities made up more than half of the fatalities. In a meeting, the Los Angeles Police Department stated that a majority of pedestrian crashes are a result of distracted driving and high speeds.

The L.A. neighborhoods with the most traffic deaths in 2023 were Downtown Los Angeles, Sun Valley, Manchester Square, and Northridge. Among the many efforts to reduce traffic fatalities, particularly for pedestrians, Los Angeles will install speed cameras on high-traffic roads in 2024. If a car is traveling above the speed limit, a ticket will be issued and sent to their home address. 


Speak to a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer 

Pedestrian accident lawyer Daniel Kim
If you were involved in a California pedestrian accident and are looking for legal representation, contact The Law Offices of Daniel Kim. Our experienced pedestrian accident lawyers can help you fight for justice and obtain maximum compensation from the at-fault party. We will help you recover compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost income.

We have offices located conveniently in Downtown Los Angeles near Pershing Square, as well as locations in Whittier, Long Beach, and Costa Mesa. To schedule a free consultation with a legal expert, contact us today at (310) 295-1087.