A NEW law favoring pedestrians makes driving significantly more dangerous for drivers who pay attention to pedestrians.
Here you have to be more vigilant in traffic.
A new law in California tightens the penalties for jaywalking.
It allows pedestrians to cross the street outside a formal intersection without fear of a ticket – provided it is safe to do so.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Freedom to Walk Act last October, which went into effect on January 1.
CalBike – which advocates for safe cycling – said, “Police may still issue tickets for unsafe pedestrian behavior, but they can no longer use jaywalking as an excuse to stop black and brown Californians.”
But West Coast Trial Lawyers warned, “While it’s much easier to cross the street outside of a marked crosswalk, the rules for jaywalking in California aren’t clear cut.”
“Drivers and pedestrians must now exercise greater caution when navigating the roads.”
RISKS FOR DRIVERS
The new law is not expected to solve the problem of pedestrian accidents with motor vehicles.
And the biggest risk for drivers is hitting someone in the middle of the road – when they don’t expect someone to suddenly come speeding ahead of them.
Greg Matthews, a detective with the Riverside Police Department’s traffic unit, told the East Bay Times that motorists are responsible for avoiding collisions with all pedestrians.
This applies regardless of where they cross, just as pedestrians have a responsibility not to put themselves in danger.
The Times reported, “Unfortunately, motorists generally expect pedestrians to cross intersections and are not always wary of pedestrians crossing mid-block.”
Matthews said, “This new law has put more responsibility on the pedestrian to ensure that when crossing the middle of the block, there are no vehicles so close that they cannot reasonably be expected to stop.”
He added, “The law recognizes that a driver cannot stop a 5,000 pound vehicle if a pedestrian suddenly steps out in front of them, even though they are only a short distance away – California law recognizes the laws of physics.”
The C&B Law Group warned, “Many have a general concern that while pedestrian crossing fines may decrease, pedestrian accidents may also increase.”
“California’s pedestrian death rate is already nearly 25 percent higher than the national average.
“Additionally, in Los Angeles, 26 percent of pedestrians struck by vehicles traveling at 20 miles per hour or more suffered serious injuries or life-threatening injuries.”
More than 7,000 pedestrians were killed in the state between 2008 and 2018.
In 2022, California again recorded the highest death toll in the United States, with 1,100 pedestrian fatalities.
Matthews said it would be “interesting to see if this new law will lead to more collisions with pedestrians over the next few years.”
Rep. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), one of the drafters of the bill, told LAist.com, “It’s still technically illegal to cross the street in the middle of the street.
“But we direct law enforcement not to subpoena anyone unless there is an imminent threat.”
John Yi, executive director of local pedestrian advocacy group Los Angeles Walks, said the Freedom to Walk Act “is by no means” solving the pedestrian deaths crisis.
He said: “The only way to reduce the number of people killed by jaywalking is to fix our damn roads.
“If we don’t change the actual layout of the streets, we’re going to get the same results — that alone isn’t going to save LA, isn’t going to save Angelenos, isn’t going to save the pedestrians.”
“This must be part of a larger effort by our city in our state to create better, safer, more pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.”
What is an “imminent threat”?
The Freedom to Walk Act aims to protect pedestrians from fines if they cross the road outside a crosswalk or at a traffic light, the Dordulian Group said.
However, certain conditions must be met to ensure that the police do not issue a subpoena.
It’s still technically illegal to cross in the middle of the road.
However, under the new law, AB 2147, police officers will be told they are no longer allowed to arrest anyone who does not pose an immediate danger to others
This includes motorists, cyclists and other pedestrians.
Ting said, “We are directing law enforcement not to call anyone unless there is imminent danger.”
So if you cross the road in dangerous conditions, or if there are vehicles nearby or approaching quickly, you can still be reported by the police for a run over. You risk getting a $196 basic fine.
“It’s better to avoid the headache altogether and not run around in dangerous situations,” advised West Coast Trial Lawyers.
The companies added, “It is safe to cross the street in any city in California if there are no hazards or vehicles on or entering the roadway prior to crossing.”
“If a car is approaching faster than you can cross the street, just wait for it.
“If there is heavy traffic on the street you want to cross, crossing at a marked crosswalk is safer and easier.
“If there are road works or other obstacles on the road, it may be safer to use a designated crossing area to cross the road than to walk across the road.
“Use your judgment and exercise caution – if you cross the street while it is dangerous, you share responsibility for any accident or injury that may result.”