Across California, it is currently illegal to step off the curb and cross the street once a pedestrian countdown signal has begun, even if the person walking knows they have enough time to cross.
Yep, the California Vehicle Code states that it is unlawful for a person to enter a crosswalk at any time other than when the signal says "walk," including during a countdown. Why? Because the law was written before pedestrian countdown clocks even existed!
It's time our state legislators (especially the governor) update the law, not only to bring it in line with the time and avoid confusion, but to bring an end to counter productive LAPD pedestrian "jaywalking" sting operations, widely covered in Spring 2015 by the LA Times and StreetsBlogLA.
Assembly Bill 390 recently introduced by Assemblymembers Santiago and Ting will change the law to make it legal for people walking to enter the crosswalk during the countdown signal if there is enough time to reasonably complete the crossing safely. This will bring the law in line with how pedestrians are actually behaving -- so we can all stop breaking the law unintentionally.
One more benefit of the clarified law is that pedestrians who enter the crosswalk during the countdown phase will more clearly have the right of way. Should a person walking be involved in a collision, the updated law may make it easier to argue that the pedestrian was acting lawfully. (Reminder that drivers should ALWAYS yield to pedestrians.)
What can YOU do?
1. Take action and social media -- tagging Governor Brown and urging him to pass AB390.
2. Call or email him asking for support and urging him to support AB390. Contact info can be found here.