When you jaywalk, you don't follow the rules of the road that protect pedestrians and drivers. If you dash across the street against a red light, you jaywalk. Likewise, if you meander across a busy road rather than waiting at a crosswalk, you also jaywalk.
Jaywalking is dangerous and illegal because it can catch drivers off guard and interfere with the flow of traffic. Jaywalking is considered an infraction, or minor violation of the law.
The word was first used to describe "someone from the countryside who goes to the city and is so dazzled by the lights and the show windows that they keep stopping and getting in the way of other pedestrians". The use of jaywalking as a term of ridicule against pedestrians crossing roads took off in the 1920s.
Jaywalking is when someone illegally crosses a street. Generally, pedestrians must use designated crosswalks and walk signals that indicate when they may or may not cross. Pedestrians who cross the street without using the crosswalk or who do not accurately follow the signals may be cited for jaywalking.
Jaywalking is illegal in California per Vehicle Code 21955 VC. This law states that: if there is an adjoining intersection controlled by a traffic signal device, then. a pedestrian shall not cross the road at a place except within a crosswalk.