California Pedestrian Injuries on the Rise

The beautiful Golden State often ranks high on several top 10 lists. In 2023, California was named one of the happiest states in the country at No.7. However, California has recently found itself at the top spot for something else, and this one is alarming to many.

California ranks first in U.S. pedestrian deaths, according to the data collected in 2022. Some may not see this as shocking since California happens to be the most populous state in the country. However, the numbers are frightening and on the rise with a 10% jump in pedestrian deaths over the past three years. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association recorded 1,100 pedestrians killed in crashes involving vehicles in California in 2022. The national pedestrian fatality rate was 2.28 in 2022. In the Golden State, the pedestrian fatality rate was significantly higher at 2.82 deaths per 100,000 people.

What’s causing the problem?

Larger vehicles on the road, including SUVs and light utility trucks, appear to be one of the factors. Crash safety analysts say that pedestrians are more vulnerable and more at risk from these larger vehicles.

There is also distracted driving with smartphones, which is a problem reported across the nation. Also, impaired driving continues to play a role, and drunk drivers contributed to half of all pedestrian fatalities in California and other states in 2018. Speeding is another major problem.

Hit-and-run accidents continue to plague California streets. In 2022, Fremont, California saw 8 of the 39 reported pedestrian accidents were hit-and-run accidents. When a driver leaves the scene of an accident, victims are at risk of being hit by another car and delay medical attention which can cause further injury or death.

Not only does California hold the title of the state with the most pedestrian deaths, but Los Angeles ranks as the second deadliest city despite recent initiatives to reduce these casualties. Los Angeles recorded more traffic fatalities than homicides in 2023. The LA Department of Transportation has stated that traffic violence singles out a vulnerable group of individuals, such as poor people of color, children, and seniors. Some of these neighborhood safety improvements over the last five years have included the installation of 6,000-plus new crosswalks, signals, and street signs. More work remains, says the department.

Some cities have started implementing asphalt bumps or “speed humps” to their neighborhood streets to slow speeding drivers and curb cut-through traffic. Los Angeles is adding more speed humps to the city but not fast enough, according to some residents. Voters want a safer city for pedestrians and recently passed Measure HLA. The legislation is part of the Mobility Plan 2035 that outlines the steps the city must take to redesign select streets and make them safer and simpler for people to walk, bike and take transit.

The Golden State knows that pedestrian safety is a pressing issue. Proactive steps are being taken to reduce these alarming figures and let folks enjoy being out and about walking, exercising, and enjoying the beauty of California weather.

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