A driver has a duty to use care toward pedestrians because the act of driving involves an instrumentality capable of inflicting injury or death. A driver must exercise a higher degree of care toward child pedestrians than adult pedestrians because of the unpredictability of the conduct of children. A driver should therefore anticipate the thoughtlessness and impulsiveness of children and act accordingly. The care required is greater still when the driver knows that small children are in the immediate vicinity.
Generally, a driver has a duty to anticipate at all times that he or she may meet pedestrians at any point in the street or highway, to maintain a proper lookout for them, and to keep his or her motor vehicle under such control as will enable him or her to avoid a collision with persons exercising ordinary care and caution for their own safety.
The driver of a motor vehicle must 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 by the Vehicle Code. California Vehicle Code, § 21950(a). Moreover, if a pedestrian, though not within a crosswalk, is not more than one or two feet outside the limits of an unmarked crosswalk when he or she is struck by a vehicle passing through the unmarked crosswalk, the same rules are applicable as if the accident had occurred within the unmarked crosswalk.
When any vehicle stops at a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear must not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle. California Vehicle Code, § 21951. In addition, the driver of any motor vehicle, prior to driving over or on any sidewalk, must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian approaching on the sidewalk. California Vehicle Code, § 21952.
A driver's violation of the California Vehicle Code sections providing for the pedestrian's right-of-way, or any other violation of the statutory rules of the road that proximately causes injury to a pedestrian, may raise a rebuttable presumption of negligence.
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