A 71-year-old woman was killed after a pickup truck struck her as she was walking in a marked crosswalk at a Santa Ana intersection. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the fatal pedestrian accident occurred at the intersection of Civic Center Drive and Lacy Street the evening of June 17 as she was crossing the street. The woman was leaving a mass at church when a southbound pick up hit her. She died from her injuries shortly afterward.
The Register talked to several neighbors who said that intersection is extremely dangerous because drivers simply don't respect the crosswalk and drive through at a high rate of speed. Santa Ana police are investigating the incident and it appears that the driver of the pickup failed to yield the right of way to the pedestrian and could face charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving without a valid license. Speed or alcohol does not appear to be factors in this crash, officials said. Friends and neighbors are also pleading for safety measures at the intersection.
Pedestrians' Right of Way
California Vehicle Code Section 21950 (a) requires all drivers to yield the right of way to pedestrians who are crossing a roadway in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. The law states: “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.” The same section of the law also states that the driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk “shall exercise all due care” and drive at a safe speed, taking all possible steps necessary to safeguard the pedestrian's safety.
When a pedestrian is struck and killed due to carelessness, their family may have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages.
Pedestrian Safety Tips for Drivers
There are a number of steps drivers can take in order to avoid pedestrian accidents. A majority of pedestrian accidents, such as this most recent one in Santa Ana, do occur as a result of driver negligence. Here are a few valuable tips for drivers.
- Drive at a safe speed. Be aware of speed particularly when you are driving in a neighborhood that has heavy foot traffic. Speed is a significant factor in pedestrian accidents. A pedestrian accident involving a car traveling at 20 mph only has a 5 percent chance of being fatal. However, at 30 mph, that risk increases to 45 percent and to 85 percent at 40 mph.
- Always yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections. Not all intersections in Orange County have clearly defined crosswalk. There are a number of intersections that do not explicitly define where the crosswalk is. However, under California law, pedestrians still have the right of way in any crosswalk – whether it is marked or unmarked. Even if you're unsure if a pedestrian should be crossing in a certain area, yield the right of way. It's better to be safe than sorry.
- Give elderly or disabled pedestrians sufficient time to cross the street. Don't get impatient with them. That could lead to a devastating accident.
- Make eye contact with pedestrians when possible. That way you know which way they are going. It could also help to communicate with hand signals.
- Never try to pass the car ahead of you if it is stopped at a crosswalk. There may be a pedestrian trying to cross the road. You may just not be able to see him or her.
- Do not block the crosswalk when you come to a stop at an intersection. That would cause pedestrians to walk into the roadway, which would put them in harm's way.
- Be extra careful when you are driving in bad weather. Give yourself more time to brake particularly on slick roadways.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact an experienced pedestrian lawyer in Orange County who will be able to stay on top of the official investigation and help you secure maximum compensation for your losses.