California drivers will need to double-check where they park this year as a new law on the books has created a no-parking buffer around marked and unmarked pedestrian crosswalks.
Drivers are typically not allowed to park their vehicles in the middle of an intersection, on a crosswalk, in front of marked curbs, in a way that blocks access to fire hydrants or too close to a fire station entrance, among other prohibited parking spots.
Now drivers will need to consider the areas around crosswalks as no-park zones, because of the law that went into effect at the start of the year. Over the next 12 months, drivers will receive a warning if they violate the rule, but citations will start to flow on Jan. 1, according to state officials.
Drivers will need to get into the habit of leaving a 20-foot gap between their vehicle and any marked or unmarked crosswalks. Assembly Bill 413 does not specify what constitutes an unmarked crosswalk and whether that applies to a sidewalk curb or ramp.
Some form of the rule have been implemented in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda, Calif., and Portland, Ore., according to the bill authors. Other jurisdictions may have their own variations and exceptions to the rule in California. The new law applies to all jurisdictions that have not addressed this parking issue.
Bill author Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-San José) said the concept of leaving a clear line of sight for all modes of transportation is called "daylighting" and aims to prevent a vehicle from obscuring the view of motorists who are approaching a crosswalk.
"Daylighting is a proven way we can make our streets safer for everyone, and 43 other states have already implemented some version of daylighting,” Lee said in a statement that accompanied the bill's introduction last year. "By making it easier for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists to see each other at intersections, we can take a simple and important step to help us all safely share the road.”
California's pedestrian fatality rate is nearly 25% higher than the national average, according to the latest data from the California Office of Traffic Safety. Pedestrian fatalities increased from 1,013 in 2020 to 1,108 in 2021 in California, while bicycle fatalities decreased from 136 to 125.
In Los Angeles, 134 pedestrian were killed by drivers from January to October last year and 427 people were severely injured, according to city officials. The numbers represent a 13% hike in pedestrians killed compared with the previous year and an 18% rise in severe injuries, according to Los Angeles officials.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.