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July 16, 2020
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Public education on pedestrian traffic laws

April 12, 2019

Last month Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety conducted an operation where plain clothes officers were at various intersections around town.  Officers would walk back and forth while uniformed officers would watch for vehicles failing to yield to the pedestrians in the crosswalk.  These locations were chosen based upon history of collisions, near misses as reported by citizens or officers’ observations while on patrol.  In all, 25 motorists were stopped for not yielding to pedestrians. 

Because of the large number of motorists failing to yield to pedestrians, we wanted to take a minute to provide our community with the laws that pertain to these situations.  Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety will be conducting another pedestrian operation in April, and we want to educate both motorists and pedestrians on what the expectations are to keep our roadways safe.   We are dedicated to making our city a safe place to walk, ride and drive, and we need your help to accomplish that mission. 

Below are laws related to pedestrians as listed in the 2019 California Vehicle Code. 

1950 VC - Right-of-Way at Crosswalks

(a) 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, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(b) 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.

(c)  The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.

(d)  Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

21951 VC - Vehicles Stopped for Pedestrians

Whenever any vehicle has stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.

21954 VC - Pedestrians Outside Crosswalks

(a) Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.

(b) The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.

21955 VC - Crossing Between Controlled Intersections

Between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.

21456 VC - Walk, Wait, or Don't Walk

Whenever a pedestrian control signal showing the words "WALK" or "WAIT" or "DONT WALK" or other approved symbol is in place, the signal shall indicate as follows:

(a "WALK" or approved "Walking Person" symbol. A pedestrian facing the signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal, but shall yield the right-of-way to vehicles lawfully within the intersection at the time that signal is first shown.

(b) Flashing or steady "DONT WALK" or "WAIT" or approved "Upraised Hand" symbol. No pedestrian shall start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed crossing shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety zone or otherwise leave the roadway while the "WAIT" or "DONT WALK" or approved "Upraised Hand" symbol is showing.

Remember if you drive a vehicle, take a few extra seconds and allow pedestrians to safely cross the street.  If you are a pedestrian, do your part and pay attention to the traffic and use the pedestrian alert buttons when applicable.  If in doubt just wait, and cross when safe.

During the operation in April, officers will be enforcing with Zero Tolerance for violators of these safety laws.  If you have questions or concerns regarding traffic safety in Rohnert Park, please contact the Rohnert Park Traffic Division at (707)584-2600.