Jaywalking is a violation of California Crosswalk Laws, but you won’t find a statute prohibiting it. Instead, you will find rules about where to cross a street.
While “jaywalking” is not used in the California Vehicle Code statutes, it is found deep in Appendix B. This appendix contains a list of Vehicle Code violations. In this list, violating the rule about crossing the street at intersections is called “jaywalking.” Jaywalking is an infraction punishable by a fine that can be as much as $250.
Pedestrians who want to avoid jaywalking and the steep fines that come with it should know these California crosswalk law facts.
1. Californians can cross the street after the countdown timer has begun
This might seem like an odd thing to highlight, but this is a new rule. Before the start of 2018, California crosswalk laws prohibited a pedestrian from starting to cross the street after the countdown time had begun. Pedestrians can now legally start across the road while the timer is counting down. However, they must get all the way across before the countdown ends.
The countdown timer is California’s version of the old crosswalk signals with the red hand and the walking person. They were tested in San Francisco in 2001 and are now widely used throughout the state.
With the old signs, pedestrians would dash across the street while the hand was flashing, hoping they had enough time to make it. With the new countdown timers, pedestrians know precisely how many seconds they have to cross the road. Many pedestrians believe the timers exist to help them decide if they have time to get across. However, pedestrians who receive citations for jaywalking learn that the countdown is for pedestrians already in the crosswalk.
This new California crosswalk law is particularly important to pedestrians in Los Angeles because LAPD enforced the jaywalking prohibition. The LA Times found that over a four-year period, LAPD issued more than 17,000 California crosswalk law citations in downtown LA. The basic fines were $197 each, with some totaling up to $250.
The new law, which took effect on January 1, revised California Vehicle Code Section 21456(b). The bill passed the state legislature unanimously in October 2017.
2. Municipal and Local Ordinances Can Differ from State Law
California crosswalk laws can differ from city to city. California Vehicle Code Section 21961 allows local jurisdictions to make rules for pedestrians. What does this mean for walkers and joggers? It means that just because they can cross the street mid-block in one city, they can’t necessarily do that throughout the state. For example, in Long Beach, California, a jaywalking citation can be issued for crossing mid-block in business districts. Pasadena has a similar rule, requiring pedestrians to use crosswalks in business districts. The Long Beach law reads as follows:
Long Beach Municipal Code Volume 1, Title 10 Vehicles and Traffic, Chapter 10.58 Pedestrians
§ 10.58.020. Crossing without crosswalk
“No pedestrian shall cross a roadway, other than by a crosswalk, in the Central Traffic District, or in any business district, except at intersections where pedestrian traffic is controlled by a scramble-system automatic signal.”
State law also prohibits pedestrians from crossing mid-block, but only “between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers” (California Vehicle Code Section 21955).
Long Beach also specifically prohibits standing in the roadway, unless a pedestrian is in a safety zone or crosswalk. Additionally, pedestrians cannot walk in the road in Long Beach if their presence interferes with traffic.
3. Some Pedestrians Have Wheels
Sometimes questions arise about who is considered a pedestrian, especially in pedestrian accident cases. Pedestrian accident victims and drivers must know which laws apply to the situation. For example, is a bicyclist who walks her bike across a street in a crosswalk subject to pedestrian laws or bicycle laws? The California Vehicle Code has a chapter specifically for pedestrians and an article for the operation of bicycles.
The California DMV says, “A pedestrian is a person on foot or who uses a conveyance such as roller skates, skateboard, etc., other than a bicycle. A pedestrian can also be a person with a disability using a tricycle, quadricycle, or wheelchair for transportation.”
The California Vehicle Code Chapter on Pedestrians’ Rights and Duties does not state a definition, but it does say that pedestrian travel can be “by foot, wheelchair, walker, or stroller.”
Reading further in the chapter on pedestrians, one might say that skiers and people on toboggans also count as pedestrians. While Los Angeles is not likely to have skiers crossing roadways, the law addresses that situation within the pedestrian chapter.
How to Stay Safe as a Pedestrian
The California Vehicle Code says that pedestrians have a duty to use due care for their own safety. This means they must obey traffic laws, traffic signals, and law enforcement officers directing traffic. Pedestrians need to watch where they are going and look for cars.
Although pedestrians following the rules have the right of way at intersections, they still have a duty to avoid cars. Pedestrians should know that they do not have the right of way on roadways outside of intersections. They must yield to vehicles whenever they are not in a marked crosswalk or legally crossing an intersection.
Pedestrians must use common sense. For example, they should look at their surroundings, not at a phone. They should not block both ears with earbuds or a headset. One ear should be available to hear what is happening around them.
If walking in dim lighting, pedestrians should dress to be seen by cars. Reflective clothing, gear, or tape, and a flashlight helps vehicles see walkers and joggers.
Contact a Long Beach Pedestrian Accident Attorney for Help
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
Pedestrian accidents can result in severe injuries. Pedestrians hit by cars often suffer from traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, soft tissue and organ damage, torn ligaments, and scrapes and bruises. I take these injuries personally and handle all aspects of accident cases.
For 35 years I have successfully advocated for accident victims’ rights. I do whatever is needed to help victims obtain the maximum compensation possible.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident, call me today. You can reach the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 to schedule a free consultation. You can also use the convenient online contact form.