Evaluating the Safety Effects of Decriminalizing Jaywalking on California Streets

Evaluating the Safety Effects of Decriminalizing Jaywalking on California Streets

Research Lead

David Ragland
University of California, Berkeley

Funding Organization

University of California Institute of Transportation Studies

Problem Statement

In October 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill (AB 1238) that would have decriminalized jaywalking by permitting pedestrians to cross in mid-block if there are no vehicles blocking the way. The bill was intended to reverse some of the discriminatory practices related to enforcement of jaywalking. In his veto message, Newsom agreed that the state must address how unequal enforcement of jaywalking laws, in addition to other minor traffic violations, are used “as a pretext to stop people of color.” Newsom explained he nevertheless vetoed the bill because California already has the eighth highest rate of pedestrian fatalities per capita in the U.S., and he worried that the measure would further encourage people to cross streets unsafely.

Project Description:

This research project will review major scholarly databases, including Pubmed, TRIS, and others for articles and reports documenting risks from decriminalizing jaywalking including details such as time from implementation of the law/regulation, crash type, level of injury(ies), and other considerations. The team will use the information collected to estimate the impact of decriminalizing jaywalking in California. Researchers with expertise in data analyses, advocates of pedestrian safety, and proponents of road safety and mobility in general will also be consulted in order to fine-tune the analysis.