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Will jaywalking fines keep Los Angeles pedestrians safe?

Walking down the street in Los Angeles should not put a person's life in danger. However, too many pedestrians are injured or killed by a vehicle in California. Many of these accidents are caused by negligent drivers who are distracted, fatigued, impaired or driving recklessly and not paying attention to other people on the road. 

This can put bicyclists and pedestrians in a very dangerous situation. Whether they are walking on the sidewalk or crossing the street, these people are in quite a vulnerable position to get hit by a car. However, rather than targeting the drivers who cause these auto-pedestrian accidents, police in Los Angeles are reportedly cracking down on the pedestrians who are at risk of getting injured. 

This holiday season, police say that they will be increasing their efforts to ticket people who enter a crosswalk when the "Don't Walk" signal is flashing. Under state law, this is considered jaywalking and people who are cited for the offense can face a whopping $250 fine. 

The announcement of the crackdown has upset many residents in Los Angeles. In general, people consider the countdown on the pedestrian traffic signal as a way to gauge how much time a person has to cross the street. If there are 25 seconds on the clock, a person may not think twice about crossing the street. If there are less 10 seconds, most people would stay put. This is why many pedestrians may not realize that entering the street at any point during the countdown is considered jaywalking. 

Police say that they are targeting these jaywalking pedestrians because they are "impeding traffic and causing too many accidents," according to a member of the LAPD. But the fact is that many pedestrian accidents in California are caused by negligent or reckless drivers and have little or nothing to do with a flashing pedestrian light.

What do you think? Will the LAPD's efforts to cite pedestrians improve safety or is the crackdown unnecessary?

Source: Los Angeles Times, "L.A.'s over-the-line crackdown on jaywalking," Dec. 18, 2013

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