Pedestrians in California are at significant risk of injury or death from being hit by cars. The last few years have brought a significant increase in the number of accidents that involve pedestrians as well as pedestrian death rates.
There is no single root cause for the recent increase in car accidents. However, there are several key factors that make the roads unsafe for drivers and pedestrians alike. The most important of these relates to driver behavior. When drivers are going too fast for the road conditions, they are more likely to make a mistake, and they have less time to correct it.
A growing problem is the rise of distracted driving. Many drivers use smartphones, and distracted driving now rivals drunk driving as a direct cause of accidents. Of course, these factors can combine to multiply risk, and that also applies to external factors like rain, poor road design, construction and a lack of pedestrian safety measures built into city infrastructure.
To prevent pedestrian accidents, cities need to make active choices to protect walkers and bikers from cars by installing sufficient crosswalks, traffic lights, bike lanes, signs and other signals. They also must minimize crossings directly on wide, multi-lane roads and crossings near hills or blind turns; building pedestrian bridges over these hazards is a beneficial step. Sometimes, the best road design for efficient traffic is not the safest design for pedestrians, and cities don’t always make the safest decision when it comes to which design to use.
Pedestrian accidents are on the rise, and while no single explanation accounts for the increase, there are many steps that drivers and city officials can take to reverse the trend.