Still, it only takes one negligent driver to cause a devastating accident.
As California's population continues to grow and embraces a fast-paced lifestyle, motorized transportation has emerged as the dominant mode of getting around. However, it is crucial to acknowledge the significance of walking and biking as popular means of transportation. Unfortunately, pedestrians and cyclists face inherent risks without the protection of an enclosed vehicle and safety features, making them vulnerable to accidents.
In response to this concern, the California Department of Transportation took a proactive step in 2017 by releasing a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plan. This plan aimed to prioritize safety for pedestrians and cyclists and has yielded some "successes" over the past five years.
However, despite these efforts, it is important to recognize that negligent drivers are still a risk to the health and safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.
Data shows a need for new safety efforts
In recent years, California has witnessed a concerning rise in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there has been a 46.5% increase in pedestrian fatalities over a nine-year period. Additionally, over 13 years, bicycle deaths have surged by more than 60%.
Since the release of Caltran's action plan five years ago, there have been new plans in Caltran's 12 districts. The plans for each district may vary depending on different factors, but the approach is what will remain consistent. The plans from the California State of Transportation Agency are called the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI).
According to Streets Blog Cal, this plan includes the following goals:
- Directing funding to projects that reduce emissions
- Increasing the range and number of programs and agencies that provide funding
- Creating a new design and plan for safe bicycling infrastructure
Other plans created since the launch of the bicycle and walking safety plan include:
- Pedestrian Safety Countermeasures Toolbox: Tools to help address issues and improve pedestrian safety.
- Adoption of the Safe System's Approach: Instead of focusing on preventing all traffic crashes, this approach considers that accidents will happen and instead focuses on what to reduce the consequences.
- Guidelines from the Office of Planning and Research: A general plan to prioritize the current transportation in the state.
Overall, the plan has pushed for more policies and guidance creation. Instead of focusing on enforcement efforts, plans have involved more to promote education and safety, moving walking and bicycling in the right direction.
What is the Bicyclist Systemic Safety Improvement Program?
Safety efforts are ongoing, and the updated report includes plans ready for action. One of these plans is to launch a new program called the "Bicyclist Systemic Safety Improvement Program."
This program will specifically focus on bicycle safety by first addressing the hot spots on the roads and highways in California that have the most accidents involving bicycles.
The main goal of this program is to reduce the deaths and injuries caused by bicycle crashes "by providing blanket improvements that can be implemented at sites throughout the roadway network."
Common causes of pedestrian and bicycle accidents
Negligent drivers can cause accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists in various ways, including:
- Failing to yield: Negligent drivers may fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians and bicyclists at crosswalks or intersections, leading to collisions.
- Distracted driving: Drivers who engage in distractions like texting, talking on the phone, or using electronic devices are more likely to overlook pedestrians and bicyclists, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Speeding: Excessive speeding reduces a driver's ability to react to unexpected situations, making it difficult to avoid collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Ignoring traffic signals: Negligent drivers may run red lights or stop signs, disregarding the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists who are lawfully crossing the road.
- Unsafe passing: Drivers who attempt to pass cyclists without maintaining a safe distance or misjudge their speed can cause accidents by sideswiping or forcing the cyclists off the road.
- Impaired driving: Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs a driver's judgment, coordination, and reaction time, making them more likely to cause accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Lack of awareness: Negligent drivers may simply fail to pay attention to their surroundings, leading to collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists who are within their vicinity.
It is important for drivers to be vigilant, follow traffic laws, and prioritize the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists to prevent accidents and share the road. When they don't and someone is injured in an accident as a result, an attorney can hold them accountable for the victim's losses.
Justice for injured pedestrians and cyclists
Pedestrian and bicycle accidents can have devastating consequences. Unfortunately, insurance companies often dispute the severity of injuries and offer lowball settlements (or in some cases, nothing at all), leaving victims searching for answers. This is where our law firm can make a difference.
At Clancy & Diaz, LLP, we understand the challenges faced by pedestrian and bicycle accident victims. Our team of experienced attorneys is dedicated to providing the support you need throughout your case.
Whether you have been injured in Walnut Creek, Antioch, Pittsburg, or anywhere in the East Bay, we can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve. Take the first step and contact us today to see how we can help you.