Report: California still has the highest number of pedestrian fatalities

California led the nation in fatal pedestrian accidents in 2014, with a total proportion of pedestrian deaths that was twice the national average.

Commuting safely around San Francisco and other parts of California can be challenging, especially for people who are traveling on foot. As most locals know, California has earned the distinction of being one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians. Sadly, a new report suggests that this pattern may continue in 2015, since California again led the country in fatal pedestrian accidents in 2014.

Troubling accident trends

According to The Los Angeles Times, the Governors Highway Safety Association recently released the results of an assessment of 2014 traffic fatality data. The report shows that the national number of pedestrian fatalities stayed fairly consistent between 2013, when 4,735 lives were lost, and 2014. Here in California, the recorded number of deaths similarly failed to decrease from 2013 to 2014. The Times shares the following troubling statistics:

  • In 2014, there were 700 reported pedestrian fatalities.
  • This was comparable to the 701 pedestrian deaths that were recorded in 2013.
  • In 2014, pedestrian deaths represented 23 percent of all California traffic deaths.

This is a high proportion of traffic fatalities that involve pedestrians. Alarmingly, it is more than twice the proportion that was recorded nationally during the same year, which was 11 percent.

Accident risk factors

The GHSA report identified several common factors in these pedestrian accidents. About 70 percent occurred at night, and about one-third of the adults involved in these accidents were intoxicated. The risk of fatalities also increased based on the speed that vehicles were traveling at when the accidents occurred.

In some areas, pedestrian accidents may also occur due to other factors, such as dangerous road design. In San Francisco, for example, more than half of serious pedestrian accidents take place on a very small proportion of streets, according to The San Francisco Gate. About 60 percent of accidents that result in severe injury or death occur on just 5.2 percent of the city’s streets.

Preventing pedestrian accidents

Local officials have considered various measures to reduce the rate of accidents on these apparently dangerous streets. Physical changes, such as wider sidewalks, could help prevent accidents. Authorities could also focus more on citing drivers for violations that frequently cause accidents, such as red light running and failure to yield.

Despite these efforts, critics worry that changes to improve safety may take too long to implement. Approval for traffic safety programs may be delayed if even a small proportion of authorities or members of the public don’t support a project. These delays may leave pedestrians exposed to needless danger.

Pedestrians who suffer harm after motorists violate traffic laws or otherwise act recklessly may have legal recourse. Injury victims may benefit from discussing their options and their rights with a pedestrian accident attorney.