CA leaders say legalizing jaywalking will not lead to greater pedestrian deaths

Dustin Dorsey Image
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Leaders say legalizing jaywalking won't cause more pedestrian deaths
California leaders say AB 2147 will allow jaywalking when it's safe to do so, addressing the issue of race and social justice in regards to citations.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- We've all been taught at a young age to be safe on the roads, but there's one rule seemingly everyone has broken: the act of crossing the street outside a crosswalk, also known as jaywalking.

It has been a finable offense for a century, but Assembly Bill 2147 now protects people from tickets.

RELATED: Californians will soon be able to jaywalk - as long as it's safe - without getting a ticket

"The Freedom to Walk Act is such a critical bill because we want to make sure everybody has the right to cross the street without being fearful of getting cited," San Francisco Assemblymember Phil Ting said.

Assemblymember Ting authored the bill signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom last week.

He says the main goal was to address the issue of race and social justice in regards to citations.

"What we saw over and over again is that people were crossing the street in certain neighborhoods or certain types of people were getting cited," Asm. Ting said. "African Americans were three to five times more likely to be cited in Los Angeles or Long Beach."

Ting said those citations often led to confrontation with police.

RELATED: Black drivers are 4.4 times more likely to be stopped by SFPD than white drivers, data shows

Now, people can only be cited for jaywalking if there is an immediate danger of a crash - like crossing a busy street.

Up until 2018, it was illegal for people to cross the street at a traffic light when the pedestrian countdown meter began flashing, according to press release released by Ting's office.

However, opponents of the law say it's only going to make the rising pedestrian traffic fatality numbers worse.

San Jose has already suffered 26 pedestrian fatalities this year and police say many occur outside of marked crosswalks.

Still, Asm. Ting does not think AB 2147 will lead to more deaths.

EXCLUSIVE: SJPD steps into the crosswalk as pedestrian decoys for traffic safety

On Wednesday as SJPD employees acted as pedestrian decoys, we saw just how many drivers didn't stop for someone crossing the road.

"We're all pedestrians. What pedestrian crosses a street thinking, 'Hey, it would be a good idea to get in front of a car'? Nobody," Asm. Ting said.

Ting says speeding and drivers not being able to react to pedestrians causes deaths, and Colin Heyne with the San Jose Department of Transportation agrees.

Heyne says it's the DOT's goal to create solutions to make roads safer for pedestrians.

"It's our job as the city government to make it easier, more convenient, more enticing to use marked pedestrian crossings, make more of them where we can and make the ones that we have function better," Heyne said. "But, if people aren't given a good option, people are going to cross in the middle of the road, whether or not there is a jaywalking law."

The law will go into effect in January.

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