The 20 feet of a street that are closest to a pedestrian crossing are especially dangerous to those using it as the California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) and other organizations and individuals have pointed out. The state government listened, and Gov. Gavin Newsome signed Assembly Bill 413, otherwise known as the Daylighting to Save Lives Bill, into law on Oct. 10 to create safer crossing environments.
What is Daylighting?
This bill prohibits the parking or stopping of a vehicle along a curb within 20 feet of a marked crosswalk in the direction of traffic with a few exceptions. One is that any curb extensions that push where the pedestrian enters the street into a more visible place reduce this required distance to 15 feet. Another is that local authorities can establish different distances if “established traffic safety standards” justify it being done and the alternate distance is noted with a sign or paint at that intersection.
This safety measure – daylighting – allows drivers to see pedestrians much more easily as they get ready to step into traffic and do so. That is contrasted with situations where there is a parked or stopped vehicle there that is between the driver and any pedestrians, blocking the view some or completely. This is an especially dangerous situation when it involves small adults or children or larger vehicles, such as trucks. Crosswalks are designed to give pedestrians safe places to walk, but inadequate signals, poor lighting or visibility can give pedestrians a false sense of security and lead to dangerous accidents.
Opposition to the Law
In fact, the trucking industry was the group that was most opposed to this measure as it restricts how much space truck operators have to park and unload or load materials. However, as CalBike stated, “The solution is to add more loading zones in commercial districts, not to endanger the lives of vulnerable road users to make deliveries more convenient.”
That said, the bill does state that commercial vehicles can use that area for this purpose if doing so has been authorized by ordinance for that specific crosswalk and it has been noted with a sign or paint.
Also, local authorities may allow bicycles and motorized scooters to be parked in that area.
Generally, punishments for violations will not occur until Jan. 1, only warnings. From that date on, citations may be issued. A pre-Jan. 1 exception has been made for violations that occur if the area has been designated as such with a sign or paint. Citations could be issued prior to New Year’s Day in those cases.
Assemblymember Alex Lee, who authored the bill and introduced it on Feb. 2, said, stressing why he believed this needed to be law, “California’s pedestrian fatality rate is nearly 25% higher than the national average. By increasing critical visibility of our streets, this bill will help prevent fatal accidents.”
Meanwhile, according to the Federal Highway Administration, around half of the country’s traffic-related injuries have taken place near an intersection, a figure that lawmakers are expecting to now be reduced in California.
Prior to this statewide law being signed, San Francisco had a similar regulation but at 10 feet, not 20.
More New Safety Laws in California
Assembly Bill 645 was also signed into law by Newsome that week, on Oct. 13. That is another bill that has safety on the roads as its focus.
It is called the Speed Safety Pilot Program and would allow cameras in select cities – Glendale, Long Beach and Los Angeles in Southern California and San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco in Northern California – to automatically record speeding drivers’ license plates and result in them receiving tickets with no police officers getting involved with the process.
However, first-time offenses will only result in warnings with fines possibly being applied on succeeding violations. Regardless, no points will be applied to the driver’s license.