California has earned yet another first—and this time it’s not one to be proud of. According to a 2017 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, 352 people were struck and killed while walking on California’s streets and roads—a figure representing the biggest number of pedestrian deaths in the entire country. The report, which analyzed data from January through June of 2017, notes that by contrast, the states of Wyoming and Hawaii experienced just one pedestrian fatality each during that same six-month period. Of all pedestrian deaths across the country, 43 percent occurred in just five states, including California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and New York.
Most fatal pedestrian accidents occur in Los Angeles County, notes the report. In 2016, 265 pedestrians died after being struck by vehicles in the county. Notes the GHSA, pedestrian fatalities now account for a larger portion of deaths on the roadway than at any other time in the previous 33 years.
Interestingly, San Francisco saw a drop in fatalities during 2017, with just 20 pedestrian deaths reported, which is the lowest in the history of the city. This downtick in pedestrian deaths in San Francisco may be due largely to its Vision Zero SF program, an initiative to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2024. The program focuses on a combination of smarter police enforcement for traffic crimes, public safety awareness campaigns, street engineering projects, and data analyses.
Alcohol is involved in 46 percent of all traffic crashes resulting in pedestrian deaths around the country. Around 13 percent of drivers and 33 percent of pedestrians in these fatal pedestrian incidents had a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 g/dL or greater.
Elsewhere in California and around the country, the GHSA report posits that one reason behind the increase in pedestrian deaths is due to the fact that people are walking as a form of transportation more now than in the past. The report notes that U.S. Census Bureau data shows that four million Americans reported walking to work in 2016, which was a 4 percent raise over 2007 data. More people on the street naturally equates to a greater likelihood of pedestrian accidents and fatalities.
The report notes that the most susceptible pedestrians are children and the elderly. This is due to several factors, including limited pedestrian experience in children, reduced mobility, declining vision, frailty in older adults, and a lack of perceptual judgement and risk perception. Children age 15 and under account for around 5 percent of pedestrian deaths, and people age 70 and up account for around 14 percent, says the GHSA report.
If there is some light at the end of the tunnel, it’s that non-fatal pedestrian injury rates have decreased 13.5 overall from their 2007 high, according to the California Department of Public Health. Nonetheless, pedestrian injuries can be life-altering, causing permanent disabilities and impairments that require years of extensive treatment, rehab, and more. If you or someone you love has been injured while walking on California’s streets, give our pedestrian accident lawyer a call to discuss your legal options now.