California has become known for its perpetual traffic and tops the list as the state with the most fatal vehicle accidents, but another roadway concern that citizens and state officials are facing now is the safety of pedestrians along California’s busy streets.
Californians regularly walk to work or school or hit the town on foot, and in a time where medical professionals promote health and exercise, more and more people are choosing to walk instead of drive when they have the option. Walking might be the healthier option, but in California, it is not always safer. Over the last 10 years, fatal pedestrian accidents in California have increased by 46%. With 2.5 deaths per every 100,000 people, California has the 5th highest pedestrian fatality rate in the United States.
The 2021 Smart Growth America report identifies Bakersfield, CA as the second most dangerous city in the US for pedestrians based on the number of pedestrians killed per capita, with several other major California cities standing out on the list.
The National Highway and Safety Administration reports that most pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas, specifically in intersections. California cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco have adopted roadway improvement strategies that focus on visibility and safety for pedestrians including, wider sidewalks, more visible crosswalks, and changes to turning lanes.
In an effort to bring awareness to pedestrian safety The California Office of Traffic Safety has initiated “Think Two Steps Ahead,” which aims to promote safety education for pedestrians and reduce roadway incidents. To decrease the chance of being hit, pedestrians should walk within crosswalks, follow right-of-way signals, wear visible clothing, and stay off their phones. The program also highlights that pedestrian safety relies heavily on driver responsibility. Drivers must follow traffic regulations and should abstain from driving distracted or impaired, speeding, or tailgating.
A National Concern
The problem of pedestrian safety is not singular to California. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 8,730 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roadways in the first quarter of 2021, a 10.5% increase compared to the same period last year.
As the number of pedestrians killed in accidents involving vehicles skyrockets the Governor's Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) and its State Highway Safety Office have launched a program to combat unnecessary pedestrian deaths through improvements to infrastructure, road design changes, equitable enforcement of traffic safety laws and road safety audits.
GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins says, “the spike in pedestrian fatalities in recent years is unacceptable. Nobody should have to worry about dying while walking. Vehicles are safer than ever for occupants thanks to design changes and new safety features, but the same can’t be said for people on foot. We must do more to address the safety of our most vulnerable road users by stopping the preventable causes of crashes – speeding, impairment, and distraction – that needlessly put lives at risk.”
If you are involved in a vehicle accident as a pedestrian, do not hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney. The car accident attorneys at Bostwick & Peterson have decades of experience protecting victims of car accidents in California. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.