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Drivers Beware: Pedestrian Accidents Bring Increased Police Actions

Drivers who run red lights, speed, fail to yield to pedestrians or don’t stop behind limit lines can expect to see more flashing lights – and more citations, said San Francisco’s Chief of Police. Due to a disproportionate number of pedestrian accidents caused by motor vehicles, the issue has caused significant public concern. The Cartwright Law Firm has been attempting to raise public awareness of this issue for many years.

At a special joint meeting of the Police Commission and the Board of Supervisors’ Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee, the Chief committed to a crackdown on traffic scofflaws in an effort to reduce vehicle/pedestrian accidents in San Francisco. Police have already issued 40 citations on Thursday at Market and Octavia streets, a location of many accidents affecting bicyclists and pedestrians.

December was a particularly deadly month for pedestrians in San Francisco: seven people were killed, including a 6-year-old girl who was struck along with her mother and 4-year-old brother in a crosswalk by a driver with the Uber ride firm. Statistics show that 2013 was the deadliest year in the past seven for pedestrians in San Francisco.

Increased enforcement will focus on the four causes mentioned earlier plus failing to yield to oncoming traffic. Police will also now take reports on all pedestrian and bicycle accidents, which the Department hasn’t done in the past.

“San Francisco has passed many resolutions on pedestrian safety, issued many plans,” San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener said. “But if there isn’t follow-up and strong buy-in and support from elected officials and department heads, nothing happens.”

Walk San Francisco and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition urged the city to commit to a “Vision Zero” policy that aims to eliminate pedestrian fatalities on city streets within 10 years. New York and Chicago have adopted the policy, and three Supervisors introduced a resolution Tuesday that proposes San Francisco follow suit.

The Bicycle Coalition urged the Police Department to train all officers in pedestrian and bicycle safety and proper handling of collisions. They also suggested that all commercial drivers – including delivery drivers, corporate bus operators and Lyft and Uber drivers – be required to take driver safety courses that include awareness of bicyclists and pedestrians. The coalition already provides such training for taxi drivers.

The Cartwright Law Firm has worked with many victims of such accidents over the years, and hopes to see these new action result in a significant reduction in vehicle/pedestrian collisions.

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