California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

710. Duties of Care for Pedestrians and Drivers

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710.Duties of Care for Pedestrians and Drivers in Crosswalk
(Veh. Code, § 21950)
A driver of a vehicle must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian who is
crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any
unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. When approaching a pedestrian
who is within any marked or unmarked crosswalk, a driver must use
reasonable care and must reduce his or her speed or take any other
action necessary to ensure the safety of the pedestrian.
A pedestrian must also use reasonable care for his or her own safety. A
pedestrian may not 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. A pedestrian also must not unnecessarily stop or
delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
The failure of a pedestrian to exercise reasonable care does not relieve a
driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising reasonable care for the
safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any
unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
New September 2003; Revised December 2016
Directions for Use
This instruction sets forth the respective duties of drivers and pedestrians in a
crosswalk. (See Veh. Code, § 21950.) Crosswalk accidents often present a
comparative negligence analysis based on the statutory duties of both parties.
Sources and Authority
• Right-of-Way at Crosswalks. Vehicle Code section 21950.
• Vehicles Stopped for Pedestrians at Crosswalks. Vehicle Code section 21951.
• “Driving a motor vehicle may be sufficiently dangerous to warrant special
instructions, but it is not so hazardous that it always requires ‘extreme
caution.’ ” (Menchaca v. Helms Bakeries, Inc. (1968) 68 Cal.2d 535, 544 [67
Cal.Rptr. 775, 439 P.2d 903], internal citations omitted.)
• “When the pedestrian suddenly leaves his place of safety, the vehicle must be
so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. Such wording [in Veh. Code,
§ 21950] indicates the statute was intended to apply to those situations where a
pedestrian unexpectedly asserts his right-of-way in an intersection at a time
when the vehicle is so close that it is virtually impossible to avoid an accident.
Typical situations include when a pedestrian steps, jumps, walks or runs directly
in front of a vehicle travelling in lanes which are adjacent to the curb or other
place of safety occupied by the pedestrian. Under such circumstances, the
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vehicle would most certainly constitute an immediate hazard to the pedestrian.”
(Spann v. Ballesty (1969) 276 Cal.App.2d 754, 761 [81 Cal.Rptr. 229], original
italics.)
• “It is undisputed that defendant did not yield the right of way to plaintiff. Such
failure constitutes a violation of the statute and negligence as a matter of law in
the absence of reasonable explanation for defendant’s conduct.” (Schmitt v.
Henderson (1969) 1 Cal.3d 460, 463 [82 Cal.Rptr 502, 462 P.2d 30].)
• “When, as here, each motorist has acted reasonably and the pedestrian has
failed to exercise due care for her own safety, the law of this state does not
permit the technical violation of the pedestrian’s right of way statute to impose
negligence on the motorists as a matter of law. The statute creates a
preferential, but not absolute, right in favor of the pedestrian who is still under
a duty to exercise ordinary care.” (Byrne v. City and County of San Francisco
(1980) 113 Cal.App.3d 731, 742 [170 Cal.Rptr. 302], internal citation omitted.)
• “While it is the duty of both the driver of a motor vehicle and a pedestrian,
using a public roadway, to exercise ordinary care, that duty does not require
necessarily the same amount of caution from each. The driver of a motor
vehicle, when ordinarily careful, will be alertly conscious of the fact that he is
in charge of a machine capable of projecting into serious consequences any
negligence of his own. Thus his caution must be adequate to that responsibility
as related to all the surrounding circumstances. A pedestrian, on the other hand,
has only his own physical body to manage and with which to set in motion a
cause of injury. While, usually, that fact limits his capacity to cause injury, as
compared with a vehicle driver, still, in exercising ordinary care, he, too, will
be alertly conscious of the mechanical power acting, or that may act, on the
public roadway, and of the possible, serious consequences from any conflict
between himself and such forces. And the caution required of him is measured
by the possibilities of injury apparent to him in the conditions at hand, or that
would be apparent to a person of ordinary prudence in the same position.”
(Cucinella v. Weston Biscuit Co. (1954) 42 Cal.2d 71, 75−76, 81 [265 P.2d 513]
[proposed jury instruction correctly stated the law].)
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 881, 882, 885
California Tort Guide (Cont.Ed.Bar 3d ed.) §§ 4.72–4.73
2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 20, Motor Vehicles, §§ 20.10–20.12 (Matthew
Bender)
8 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 82, Automobiles: Causes of
Action, § 82.10 (Matthew Bender)
MOTOR VEHICLES AND HIGHWAY SAFETY CACI No. 710
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