Pedestrians often face unsafe choices as they walk along California’s streets. Sometimes, there’s almost no safe or legal way to cross a busy road.
This is the issue behind California AB 2147, a new bill passed by the legislature and on its way to Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature. The bill, known as the Freedom to Walk bill, modifies California’s jaywalking laws to provide new options for pedestrians.
It’s an important step in protecting California’s walkers. According to a recent report on vehicle-pedestrian accidents, pedestrian deaths are up 59% since 2009. Despite decades of efforts to improve road safety, California remains in the top 10 states for pedestrian deaths.
Now, AB 2147 reminds motorists that pedestrians have a right to share the roads safely. It also sets new boundaries for when law enforcement officers can ticket people for jaywalking.
How AB 2147 Changes the Law in California
The Freedom to Walk initiative is intended to prevent pedestrian accidents and protect walkers from unfair jaywalking citations. AB 2147 restricts law enforcement officers from issuing jaywalking tickets in areas that have reasonably safe mid-block crossing zones.
Pedestrian safety groups believe this allows safe crossing while reducing racially-motivated traffic citations. The police are still permitted to ticket people for engaging in unsafe pedestrian behavior, but it’s not legal to cite jaywalking in a safe area as a pretext for a police interaction.
To be clear, AB 2147 doesn’t repeal the current jaywalking laws. Instead, it clarifies the legality of mid-block crossing and establishes new boundaries for issuing police citations.
Previously, a police officer could cite someone for jaywalking under CVC 21955 because of crossing the road outside a designated crosswalk. This included a fine of up to $250, plus more for subsequent violations. Now the police are no longer permitted to issue CVC 21955 citations when there are safe crossing areas present, even if the areas are between intersections and/or are unmarked.
In simple terms, AB 2147 legalizes what most pedestrians were already doing: using the safest routes to walk.
Adding to California’s Pedestrian-Friendly Laws
Have you noticed that California’s laws aren’t as car-centric as they used to be? Our state has enacted stronger laws to protect pedestrians’ rights and remind everyone that it’s their legal obligation to share the roads.
In addition to AB 2147, keep these general rules in mind:
- In California, pedestrians in crosswalks have the right of way, but that doesn’t mean they have the right of way in all situations.
- Whether a pedestrian is in a crosswalk or not, they are prohibited from stepping directly into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Choose your path carefully!
- Although it’s not legally required, it’s usually safest for pedestrians to cross within marked or unmarked crosswalks when available.
- Motorists are never permitted to blatantly harm pedestrians and are responsible for exercising due care to avoid accidents.
As a pedestrian, if you’re unlucky enough to be struck by a car or otherwise harmed on the road, you may have a strong personal injury case. Talk to a California pedestrian accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and potential paths to compensation.
We Support Pedestrians After Accidents in California
Here at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, our team handles many areas of personal injury law including pedestrian accident claims. We also enjoy walking in California’s cities and neighborhoods and have compassion for our fellow pedestrians who are injured while walking. Contact Us About Your California Vehicle Injury Accident – Sally Morin Law
We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your pedestrian accident while we handle the legal details. If you have questions about how AB 2147 and other pedestrian laws might impact your personal injury case, call 877-380-8852 today for a free case evaluation.