One of the primary ways in which pedestrians and bicyclists traveling on sidewalks are injured or killed is by motor vehicles exiting parking lots or driveways. A recent example is the Bay Area case of an 84-year-old woman killed by a vehicle exiting a parking lot on W. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale. Based upon my experience as a pedestrian and bicycle accident lawyer, it appears that the most common way this occurs is when the pedestrian or bicyclist is traveling on the sidewalk in the opposite direction that the cars on the adjacent road are traveling.
Because the driver of the vehicle exiting the parking lot is most concerned with entering the traffic traveling in the direction the driver wishes to go, the driver quite often neglects to look for potential sidewalk traffic coming from the opposite direction. Sometimes contributing to the failure of the driver to notice pedestrians and bicyclists is the presence of things which obstruct the driver’s vision such as hedges, walls or commercial signs. Pedestrians and bicyclists injured in such collisions often report that they mistakenly believed that the driver acknowledged or noticed them before driving into them or across their path. While drivers under these circumstances are almost always held to be negligent, it would appear to be safe practice for pedestrians and bicyclists to be aware of this potential driver behavior when approaching driveways and exits.