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California pedestrian deaths remain high

Despite the numerous improvements in traffic safety, pedestrian fatalities are still at disturbing levels in California and across the country. More work must be done to protect pedestrians against vehicles and prevent these deadly car accidents.

California pedestrian deaths were trending upward from 653 in 2012 to 940 in 2017. These fatalities dropped to 893 in 2018.

National pedestrian deaths rose from 4,109 in 2009 to 6,283 in 2018. Urban areas had an alarming 69 percent rise in these fatalities over that time.

Nighttime deaths rose 4.6 percent from 2017 to 2018. Pedestrians killed in drunk-driving accidents rose by 2.2 percent.

Experts in California and this country have not attributed this rise to a single cause. But they have blamed several reasons such as distracted driving, larger vehicles and more pedestrians and bicyclists in urban areas. Unfortunately, Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition compiled data projecting that these deaths will rise in 25 states.

Congress drafted a new national priority program in 2015 to target money to states for pedestrian and bicycle safety. The federal government previously allotted $70 million for a five-year safety program which has spent $42 million in its first four years.

But experts argue that this is insufficient and that a major city could spend even more on bike lanes, pedestrian crosswalks, traffic signals and other improvements. They also claim that government programs on pedestrian safety are underfunded and most transportation funding goes to construction and repair of roads and bridges.

California safety traffic teams monitored 129 locations throughout the state in 2016 and 2017 that had a history of pedestrian danger. They reviewed sidewalk and walkway design, signs, traffic signals, crosswalks, interchange design, roundabout designed for pedestrians and ways to lower traffic congestion. Of their 89 recommendations, 54 were completed in 2018.

Victims of a negligent or reckless driver may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help them gather evidence and determine whether they can file a personal injury lawsuit.

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