California leads the country in many ways. But, one statistic we cannot take pride in is as the top state in fatal traffic injuries, with about 3,500 per year over the last five years. While the more recent numbers are incomplete, it’s believed that 30% of the traffic fatalities involve pedestrians. Considering the numerous reports of reckless driving during the pandemic in 2020, the number will likely go up again.
Why the pedestrian numbers will climb
Driving during 2020 was unique because of the much lower traffic volumes. Despite fewer drivers on the road, the number of injuries remained flat or increased. As 2021 closes, the traffic volume is creeping back up, but people are still driving as recklessly as they did during the pandemic. There are also the usual causes, including distracted driving, drug and alcohol use, and unsafe road designs.
Steps to make the streets safer
Governor Newsom recently did not sign Assembly Bill 1238, which would eliminate fines and citations for jaywalking and pedestrians going against traffic regulations. The reason was to dissuade pedestrians from taking risks when crossing the street. However, the state could still make other changes to increase pedestrian safety including:
- Add more sidewalks and walking paths
- Use pedestrian warning signs
- Use high visibility crosswalks with signals
- Restrict parking so that it is easier to see pedestrians
- Configure traffic signals to accommodate pedestrians
- Engage communities to educate them on pedestrian safety
- Lower speed limits in areas with high volumes of foot traffic
Pedestrians can hold negligent drivers accountable
Pedestrian injuries are often severe or fatal, so victims and their families may need to take legal action against reckless drivers. This action can help them recoup medical expenses, loss of income due to injury, and ongoing costs resulting from life-changing injuries. Those with specific questions often get answers from attorneys who work with injured pedestrians.