States are required to establish yearly traffic fatality and injury targets in order to receive funding from the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program. This includes setting targets for pedestrian collisions. The funding is used for safety-related projects such as infrastructure improvement.
Eighteen states have set targets for "non-motorized user" fatalities and injuries in 2018, including California. Sadly, the actual numbers exceeded the estimated target for that year. That's according to Smart Growth America's most recent update to its Dangerous by Design report.
The report update shows that California met its fatality and injury targets in 2014 and 2015. The actual number of incidents in 2018 exceeded the target for that year. Most of the reported incidents involved injuries. The number of fatalities seems to be slightly lower than in 2016 and 2017. No injury data was reported for those two years.
The report finds that there is a stark imbalance between public outcry and what's actually being done to curb pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. Older Americans, people of color, and residents of low-income communities are the most impacted by this epidemic.
According to the report, the problem doesn't lie in the number of people walking or driving. It's due to the prioritization of road infrastructure that favors cars over pedestrians and bicyclists.
Distracted driving, a leading factor in pedestrian injuries and fatalities?
Distracted driving is becoming a growing threat to public safety and is a leading cause of pedestrian collisions. As we discussed in January, several drivers could be distracted by cellphones at any given time. Inattentive drivers are rarely able to stop in time to avoid a collision. Pedestrians sustain serious and fatal injuries as a result.
California law prohibits cellphone use for drivers. That includes:
- Text-based communication
- Handling or holding a device
- Making calls
- Using apps
Penalties include a $20 fine for first-time violators and a $50 fine for second or subsequent violators.
Governor Gavin Newsom also signed Assembly Bill 47 into law in 2019, which will take effect July 1, 2021. The law would impose a fine and a driving record point increase for motorists with multiple distracted driving violations within a 36-month period.
How bad are pedestrian collisions in California?
California currently ranks No. 16 in the nation for pedestrian fatalities. The Golden State also had a pedestrian danger index of 68.2 in 2019.
From 2008-2017, California had:
- Approximately 7,127 pedestrian fatalities — 940 of which happened in 2017.
- 1.84 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people.
Pedestrian fatalities increased by 35.4 percent during the same period across the United States. Meanwhile, traffic fatalities involving motorists declined by 6.1 percent.
That's why the attorneys at Clancy & Diaz, LLP have dedicated themselves to holding negligent drivers accountable when their actions harm pedestrians. We have been advocating for injured pedestrians in Walnut Creek and the Bay Area for more than a decade. Contact us online today to schedule your free case evaluation. We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you don't pay unless we win your case.