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Freedom to Walk Act. Prohibits Ticketing for Jaywalking and Similar Infractions Unless There is Immediate Danger of a Collision

It is no longer an offense to jaywalk in California unless there is a perceived danger of a collision.

Under the existing laws in California that govern road use by pedestrians, certain acts at crosswalks and on roadways are considered an infraction. A police officer witnessing these acts can make an arrest without a warrant (this means that the police officer can determine probable cause out of their own observation of the crime and make an arrest at the scene).

Assembly Bill AB 2147 amends this law, in effect prohibiting officers from citing or arresting pedestrians for such traffic infractions. They can, however, still stop a pedestrian if the infraction is likely to result in a collision with a moving vehicle or a device that's being operated by a person.

Sections Amended by AB 2147

AB 2147 amends the following sections of the California Vehicle Code: 21451, 21452, 21453, 21456, 21461.5, 21462, 21950, 21953, 21954, 21955, 21956, 21961, and 21966 relating to pedestrian road use.

Each of these sections has been amended by adding the following wording:

"A peace officer … shall not stop a pedestrian for a violation of [the covered infraction] unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle or [specified] device…"

Below is a highlight of the rules contained in each section:

  • VC 21451, subdivisions (c) and (d). On green light

    If a pedestrian is facing a green circular road signal, they can cross the road within a marked or unmarked crosswalk but first need to give right of way to vehicles at the intersection.

    A Pedestrian should not enter the road if they are facing a green turn signal.

  • VC 21452 subdivision (b). On a yellow light

    A pedestrian facing a yellow traffic light should not attempt to cross the road because that signal warns there is no sufficient time to cross.

  • VC 21453, subdivision d). On a red light

    A pedestrian should not attempt to cross the road if the road signal is a circular red light or red arrow.

  • VC 21456, subdivisions (a)(1) to (a)(3). "Walk, "Walking Person," "Don't Walk," "Wait," or "Upraised Hand."

    A pedestrian can cross the road if the sign reads "Walk" or shows a Walking Person symbol, but must give way to vehicles at the intersection at the time the signal changes.

    A pedestrian can cross the road if the signal is flashing "Don't Walk", "Wait", or an upraised hand symbol with a countdown timer but must not be on the roadway by the end of the countdown or the signs "Don't Walk" or "Wait" stop flashing and display as steady signs.

    A pedestrian should not cross the road if the signal is a steady "Don't Walk", "Wait" or an upraised hand symbol. A pedestrian should not cross the road if the signal is flashing "Don't Walk", Wait, or appraised hand, but there is no countdown. If a pedestrian had started crossing while the "Walk" signal or walking person symbol were displaying, they should move onto a sidewalk or safe area, or get out of the road.

  • VC 21461.5 Road signs and signals

    It is unlawful for a pedestrian to disobey road signs and signals

  • VC 21462 Drivers, animal handlers, pedestrians, and streetcars

    Drivers of vehicles and streetcars, animal handlers, and pedestrians must obey traffic signals unless instructed to do otherwise by a police officer, in cases of emergencies, or to avert a collision.

  • VC 21950 Pedestrians and drivers should exercise due care at crosswalks

    Although drivers should give the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks, pedestrians should exercise due care before getting on the cross walk. A pedestrian should not start to cross the road at a crosswalk when a vehicle is too close to cause a collision. A pedestrian must also hasten their crossing at a crosswalk, to avoid holding up traffic.

    A driver should also exercise care while approaching a crosswalk, and should reduce speed to keep pedestrians safe.

  • VC 21953 Crossing at a pedestrian tunnel or overhead

    Where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead is installed to aid safe pedestrian crossing, but a pedestrian opts to cross the road by means other than the pedestrian tunnel or overhead, the pedestrian must give the right of way to vehicles.

  • VC 21954. Crossing other than within a crosswalk

    A pedestrian shall the give right of way to all vehicles when crossing at a place without a crosswalk.

  • VC 21955. Crossing at adjacent intersections

    Between adjacent intersections, a pedestrian should only cross at a crosswalk.

  • VC 212956 [Pedestrians can walk on a road outside of a business or residence district only close to their left-hand roadway edge; with exceptions.]
  • When walking along the road outside a business or residence district, a pedestrian should keep to their left-hand road edge.

    In the absence of a crosswalk, or where road conditions may endanger the pedestrian when crossing, the pedestrian may walk on their right road edge.

  • VC 21961 Road crossing only at crosswalks

    Local authorities can prohibit pedestrians from crossing the road other than at crosswalks.

  • VC 21966 Pedestrian use of bicycle path

    A pedestrian should not use a bicycle path if there is a path set aside for pedestrians.

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