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Pedestrians vs. Cars – Who’s At Fault?

DBM Law Blog

Day light savings has come and gone, and we are now subject to shorter days and longer nights. It is around this time of year that we see an increased number of pedestrians struck by vehicles. It is a common misconception that when a car strikes a pedestrian and causes injury, that the driver of the car is automatically at fault – beware because this is not always the case!

Things to know:

Crossing at a Crosswalk:

While a vehicle must yield to the right of way of a pedestrian who is crossing at a marked or unmarked crosswalk, a pedestrian is expected not to leave the curb or a place of safety to walk into the path of an oncoming vehicle if it is not practical for that vehicle to stop in time to avoid a collision with the pedestrian.

Crossing Anywhere Other Than at a Crosswalk:

If a pedestrian is crossing a road at a point that is not a crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield to the right of way of the vehicle. What this means is that the vehicle has the right of way, not the person who is jaywalking.

This does not mean that the driver of the vehicle is absolved from responsibility. The driver of a vehicle must still must use all efforts to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, must use their horn to give a warning to a pedestrian where possible, and should always be on the lookout for vulnerable persons who may have made their way onto the road.

Ways to Avoid a Car/Pedestrian Collision:


  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Do not assume that you always have the right of way
  • Wear appropriate reflective gear while crossing the street at night
  • Cross at a marked crosswalk
  • Obey all traffic laws and cross walk signage
  • Keep the volume of your music low so that you can hear oncoming traffic, horns and any other noises that will prevent you from being struck by a vehicle


  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Drive the posted speed limit
  • Lookout for vulnerable persons who may not be wearing the appropriate reflective gear or might be wandering on the road
  • Familiarize yourself with your responsibility as a driver on the road
  • When possible, do everything you can do avoid a collision with a pedestrian who has stepping onto the road and into your path

There is an onus on both pedestrians and drivers of vehicles to avoid collisions. It is important to know your rights and responsibilities as users of the road. The Motor Vehicle Act, RSBC 1996 c. 318 outlines your rights and obligations as both a driver and a pedestrian.

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is important to speak to a lawyer in order to better understand your potential liability and rights.



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