Briefing Room: cars, crosswalks, and pedestrians



What are the rules on cars moving into a crosswalk when pedestrians are crossing? Is there a difference between streets where there are lights and medians and those that do not?

Thanks for the help,


Hi, Margo.  Thank you so much for  your email.  I’m really glad you asked this question.

Last week I wrote about turning right on a red light, and Margo’s question directly relates to that very rule.

In short, California Vehicle Code §21950 says (in part) that pedestrians have the right-of-way, but it “does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety” (like suddenly walking into traffic from a curb).  Furthermore, this section states “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.”  This applies to both marked and unmarked crosswalks at intersections.

So what happens if you are at a large intersection and are getting ready to turn right when a pedestrian steps off the curb and begins to cross?  Do you have to wait for them to cross the entire intersection before you can make your right turn?  The answer is no.  You may make your turn so long as you are exercising due care for the pedestrian’s safety.  If you turn too closely in front of the pedestrian, or their safety is put at risk by your driving, you may not turn.  In this instance, or at a smaller intersection, it may be more safe to wait until the pedestrian makes it safely through the intersection before you proceed.

The Seal Beach Police Department takes pedestrian safely very seriously.  Whenever approaching an intersection, whether you are a pedestrian or motorist, please remember to:  “Stop” -Stop your vehicle. Stop walking.  “Look” -Make eye contact with each other (driver to pedestrian, pedestrian to driver) “Wave” – Acknowledge who will be crossing, or who will be passing through the crosswalk in their vehicle by waving. It’s a friendly way of saying, “Hello. I see you.”

I hope this helps Margo.  If you have other questions for us, please email them to me at!  Thanks again.

Briefing Room: cars, crosswalks, and pedestrians