California as a whole has come under much scrutiny in recent years because of the number of traffic-related fatalities in the state. (Especially the high number of pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles.) The numbers of people who die on our streets and highways is rapidly outpacing those same figures elsewhere in the country. And this increase flies in the face of the significant investment California cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose and Oakland have made to decrease the number of crashes.
A study conducted by the Governor’s Highway Association in 2015 found that the number of people killed in automobile accidents in California rose by 7% in just the first half of the year. That put California on track to break a 40-year record for deadly pedestrian accidents. That number is especially terrifying when you realize that across the country those figures are either remaining steady or decreasing. So what is California doing wrong? And just how likley are you to be hit by a car in LA?
Increasing Danger for Pedestrians
Part of the increase may be due to population surges. Not only are there significantly more people in California today than there were 40 years ago, there are far more cars, bikes and motorcycles. And, spurred by a growing economy and low gas prices, people are simply driving more than they did a couple of years ago. That means there are more opportunities for people and cars to collide. But that doesn’t paint the whole picture.
(It’s important to note that there are several laws already on the books designed to help protect pedestrians in Los Angeles.)
Los Angeles Particularly Hard Hit
While the Governor’s study focused on the California as a whole, another more detailed study found that the number of fatal pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles is increasing as well. In fact, deadly pedestrian accidents in LA account for a full third (33%) of all the fatal accidents in the city. As a Los Angeles personal injury attorney, I see far too many people seriously injured or killed in these terrible accidents.
You could argue those figures are skewed. Auto makers are continually upgrading the safety features on vehicles. So more and more drivers and passengers inside cars are surviving collisions while pedestrians struck by cars are much more likely to die or suffer severe injuries. However, the number of total pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles is is increasing as well. But analyzing where and why they are happening may pinpoint a solution.
LA’s Most Dangerous Intersections
That same city-specific study uncovered that 25% of these fatal pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles happen at just 1% of the city’s intersections. In fact, an LA Times analysis of crash data collected by The California Highway Patrol shows that there are 579 intersections where the rate of pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles rank higher than the national average. Over one twelve-year period between 2002 and 2013 the Times reports there were more than 600 people struck while walking at just 48 of the most dangerous intersections in Los Angeles.
These danger zones have become the focus of the majority of funding and re-engineering projects in the city for a good reason.
It’s here that we begin to see:
- Re-timed crossing signals
- High-visibility crosswalks
- Pedestrian bump-outs
- Dedicated bike lanes
Speed Remains the Leading Factors in Deadly Pedestrian Accidents in Los Angeles
These safety improvements are generally geared toward decreasing the travel speed of automobiles. Not only is speeding the number one contributing factor to fatal pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles, it’s also the number one factor in increasing severity of the injuries inflicted on individuals struck by cars.
For example, a person on foot has a 75% chance of walking away with minor scrapes and bruising if they’re hit by a car traveling at 23 mph or less. Add 16 mph to that and that chance of getting out without severe injuries drops to just 25%. And when you’re correlating fatal pedestrian accidents and speed the disparity is even more shocking.
If struck by a car traveling 20 mph or less, a pedestrian has a 95% chance of survival. If the car is traveling just 30 mph that chance is nearly cut in half (to just 55%). At 45 mph cars kill 85% of the pedestrians they strike. Way too many of the pedestrian accidents we handle as Los Angeles personal injury lawyers involve speeding vehicles.
The City Continues Improvements (But Results Lag Behind)
LA has already added 200 miles of bike lanes, dozens of high-visibility crosswalks, and dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the mass transits system hoping to 1) decrease the number of pedestrians and cars on city streets and 2) increase safety for people on foot. But these improvements have yet to show a significant impact on crashes or fatalities.
Until drivers slow down, until they learn to yield to pedestrians 100% of the time, until they put away the distractions (like cellphones), until they treat foot traffic with the respect they give other automobiles, there will continue to be high numbers of pedestrian accidents in Los Angeles. But, if you know how to maximize your settlement amount after an accident in LA, you don’t have to let your accident ruin your life.
But if you’ve been seriously injured by one of these reckless, careless, or distracted drivers there is help available. Sally Morin and her team of pedestrian accident lawyers have been getting victims the compensation they deserve (both in and out of court) for over a decade. We work hard to help you get back on your feet, put your life back in order after a crash, and get back to work fast so you can take care of yourself and your family.