What is California's Freedom to Walk Act (and What Does it Mean for Jaywalking)?

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Does the Freedom to Walk Act (California AB 2147) Decriminalize Jaywalking?

Does the Freedom to Walk Act (California AB 2147) Decriminalize Jaywalking?

Oct 5, 2022

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2147 – also known as the Freedom to Walk Act – into law last week. Assembly Bill 2147 (AB 2147) allows people to jaywalk or cross outside of an intersection without being ticketed, provided there is no immediate danger of a motor vehicle crash.

California Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco introduced AB 2147, which defines when a police officer can stop and cite a pedestrian for jaywalking – specifically “only when a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision.”

What is California’s Freedom to Walk Act (and What Does it Mean for Jaywalking)?

“It should not be a criminal offense to safely cross the street. When expensive tickets and unnecessary confrontations with police impact only certain communities, it’s time to reconsider how we use our law enforcement resources and whether our jaywalking laws really do protect pedestrians,” Ting said. “Plus, we should be encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk for health and environmental reasons.”

A press release from Ting’s office noted that until 2018, it was illegal for people to cross the street at a traffic light when the pedestrian countdown meter began flashing. Furthermore, jaywalkers in California have, prior to the passage of AB 2147, been subject to a $198 fine (which does not include potential court fees).

Yahoo! News reported that California is actually not the first locality to decriminalize jaywalking. In March 2021, the state of Virginia passed similar legislation which, as the Yahoo! report noted, had “no discernible effect on pedestrian traffic fatalities through the rest of the year.”

Local Glendale Assemblymember Laura Friedman co-authored AB 2147 with Ting. The Freedom to Walk Act will take effect January 1, 2023.

Does California AB 2147 Completely Decriminalize Jaywalking?

As a report from LAist.com notes, California AB 2147 does not technically decriminalize the act of jaywalking.

The Freedom to Walk Act is designed to protect pedestrians from jaywalking tickets when crossing the street outside of a crosswalk or against a traffic light, but certain conditions must be met to ensure a citation is not issued by police.

As Assemblymember Ting told LAist.com, while it is still technically illegal to cross “in the middle of the street,” law enforcement are directed under AB 2147 to no longer cite people who do not pose an immediate danger to others (including motor vehicle drivers, bicyclists, other pedestrians, etc.).

” …we’re directing law enforcement not to cite people, unless there’s an immediate hazard,” Ting told LAist.com.

AB 2147 is actually the second attempt by legislators to change the way jaywalking is enforced in California. Last year, Governor Newsom vetoed a previous version of the bill citing concerns that by decriminalizing jaywalking, the bill would “unintentionally reduce pedestrian safety and potentially increase fatalities or serious injuries.”

“I am committed to working with the author, the Legislature, and stakeholders on legislation that addresses the unequal enforcement of jaywalking laws in a manner that does not risk worsening California’s pedestrian safety,” Newsom said at the time of vetoing AB 2138.

As LAist.com notes, how police officers determine what meets the standard of an “immediate danger” will likely lead to “enforcement that’s not completely uniform.”

“I preferred our bill last year. I think it was much cleaner, easier to implement. But this is the version that we were able to settle,” Ting said.

LAist.com reported that local mobility advocates have also raised concerns that AB 2147 might rely too heavily on “officers’ judgment.”

“There’s still that piece of officer discretion,” Tamika Butler, a social justice advocate and private consultant focused on equitable transportation policy, told LAist.com. “As a Black person in this country, officer discretion has never gone well.”

Will California AB 2147 Reduce Pedestrian Accident Injuries and Deaths?

Will California AB 2147 Reduce Pedestrian Accident Injuries and Deaths?

The Los Angeles Vision Zero program aims to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2025. Signed as an executive directive by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Vision Zero is an initiative overseen by the city’s Department of Transportation.

However, as the LAist.com report notes, California AB 2147 is not expected to solve the issue of pedestrian-related motor vehicle collisions. John Yi, executive director of the local pedestrian advocacy group Los Angeles Walks, told LAist.com that the Freedom to Walk Act “by no means” solves the crisis of pedestrian deaths.

“The only way we’re going to reduce people being killed from jaywalking is to fix our freakin’ streets,” Yi said to LAist.com

“Unless we fix the actual design of the streets, we’ll have the same outcomes … This in itself will not save L.A., will not save Angelenos, will not save pedestrians. This must be part of a larger effort in our city in our state to have better, safer and more walkable infrastructure,” he added.

Glendale Assemblymember Friedman has also expressed frustration over the action of citing people for jaywalking ultimately having little-to-no effect on a pedestrian’s behavior. Moreover, Friedman notes that it does not improve public safety.

“So why are we doing it so much?” she asked, according to LAist.com

“If people are jaywalking a lot in an area, it’s probably because they don’t have a good way to get across the street,” Friedman said. “I’d rather have communities start thinking about adding more crosswalks, adding better signage, putting a light up, putting up a stop sign, adding a sidewalk – doing all the things that we know actually do make people safer.”

Injured in a Los Angeles Pedestrian Accident?

Pedestrian accident injuries are extremely common in the Golden State, particularly here in Los Angeles County. In fact, 893 pedestrians were killed on California roadways last year (a staggering 26% increase from 2014). Furthermore, California’s pedestrian death rate is almost 25% higher than the national average.

In Addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 5,977 pedestrian deaths from traffic crashes which occurred in 2017. That statistic means that a pedestrian accident fatality occurs in the United States approximately every 88 minutes. Moreover, an estimated 137,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2017 for non-fatal motor vehicle crash-related injuries.

If you’ve been injured in a Los Angeles pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to a cash settlement for various types of damages:

  • Hospital and medical bills (past and future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional or psychological trauma
  • Punitive damages
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Reduced quality of life

Filing a timely pedestrian accident injury claim with Dordulian Law Group (DLG) can help ensure that you recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve, allowing for a complete recovery which takes into account your overall physical, emotional, and financial well-being.

Contact a Los Angeles Pedestrian Accident Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Proving negligence is a critical aspect of a successful pedestrian accident injury civil lawsuit. In order to recover the maximum settlement or verdict you truly deserve, having an experienced and dedicated DLG pedestrian accident injury lawyer fighting on your side can be necessary.

DLG’s pedestrian accident lawyers have the knowledge, skill, and experience that is required to successfully recover compensation for standard damages like hospital and medical bills, but also to secure hard to quantify (and prove) intangible damages such as pain and suffering or emotional trauma.

With DLG, your pedestrian accident consultation is always free, confidential, and without any obligation. We’ll review the facts of your case and provide you with all available legal options to ensure your rights are protected and the maximum financial damages award you deserve is pursued. DLG’s experienced and proven personal injury attorneys serve pedestrian accident clients throughout California as well as the United States.

Schedule an appointment online for a free consultation today, or call us directly to speak to our top-rated, expert pedestrian accident attorneys.

Contact us today at 818-322-4056 for a free pedestrian accident lawyer consultation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by ensuring that the insurance company or at-fault party does not take advantage of your rights as a pedestrian accident injury victim. You owe it to yourself to take the steps required to avoid financial loss after an unfortunate pedestrian accident injury that occurred through no fault of your own.

DLG’s pedestrian accident injury attorneys are available 24/7 to answer any questions you have. Having recovered more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts for our clients while maintaining a 98% success rate, DLG is the absolute best choice available when searching for a Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer.

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