Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. hit a 28 year high in 2018 according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. The number of pedestrian deaths involving SUVs increased by 50 percent from 2013 through 2017 and the number of pedestrian deaths caused by passenger cars increased by 30 percent over the same period.
The increased sales of SUVs and the fact that pedestrians are less likely to survive when struck by an SUV are a factor in the increase of fatalities. Pedestrian deaths now make up 16 percent of all road deaths, up from 12 percent in 2009. Distracted driving and distracted walking are factors leading to the increase. More people walk to work, insufficient pedestrian road crossings, and speeding driving are additional factors causing this increase.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed has directed three city agencies to accelerate safety projects and increase enforcement. Her announcement followed six serious collisions in a week that killed two people and severely injured four people. Police have been asked to issue more citations for speeding, violating pedestrian right-of-way, failure to yield while turning and running red lights and stop signs.
The “highway injury corridors” in San Francisco, where 75 percent of the crash and fatalities occurred, will have greater traffic enforcement.
Vision Zero SF, the City’s program to eliminate traffic deaths, has designated two intersections in North Beach as “high-injury intersections.” Taylor and North Point Streets and Beach at Hyde Streets are among the most dangerous in the city for crashes. Vision Zero has also categorized a number of intersections in the Western Addition, Bayview and Hayes Valley neighborhoods as harmful for pedestrians
The speed of the vehicle is the primary factor in causing pedestrian deaths. A vehicle that hits a pedestrian at 40 mph will result in death 80 percent of the time. At 30 mph, 4 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed. In 2015, 20 pedestrians died when hit by a vehicle. At least 100 people in San Francisco suffered serious life-changing injuries. Five people were killed in San Francisco from February 2016 through February 2017.
Safety improvements to reduce pedestrian fatalities include the building of refuge islands, sidewalk and pedestrian overpasses, improving traffic signals, street lighting and high visibility crosswalks. The use of roundabouts in place of stop signs, speed bumps and curb extensions are strategies to get drivers to slow down.
Attorney Lew Van Blois has won several large verdicts at trial for pedestrian accident victims. This winning history has resulted in many large settlements early in the case for his clients in pedestrian accident cases.