We are taught at a young age to look both ways before crossing the street. However, despite our best efforts, pedestrian related accidents occur at shocking numbers. A statistic from 2015 found that over 5,300 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes, equating to one crash-related pedestrian death every two hours. Additionally, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash.
Recently, the city of San Francisco, California, was involved in a wrongful death lawsuit resulting from a pedestrian crash that took the life of a 38-year-old disabled woman. The victim was struck by a vehicle and killed as she crossed Market Street back in February 2016. The vehicle that struck and killed her was operated by an employee of the city of San Francisco, who was acting on behalf of the city at the time of the crash. According to the accident report, the driver made an illegal left-hand turn on to Market Street, striking the victim who was lawfully in the pedestrian crosswalk. According to reports, a settlement of $2.9 million was expected.
The victim’s death has brought about positive change from the city of San Francisco. The site of the victim’s death, and many other dangerous locations throughout the city, is receiving new signage clarifying illegal turns. Many, however, are calling for stronger measures, such as GPS tracking in government-owned vehicles, as well as frequent driver education classes for city employees.
The majority of pedestrian crashes are preventable. Whether the crashes are the product of driver negligence or faulty city planning, steps can be taken to ensure pedestrian safety. For example, there were safety signs at the site of the victim’s death. However, the signs were old and difficult to read. A simple fix of these signs may have prevented the driver from hitting the victim.
Not surprisingly, pedestrian safety is a top priority of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Safer People, Safer Streets initiative is designed to make streets safer for pedestrians and motorists. As part of the initiative, road safety assessments were conducted in every state, ensuring cooperation from state and federal government.
Unfortunately, however, pedestrian deaths continue to rise. Pedestrian deaths increased by 10% in 2015, which some suggest is largely a byproduct of plummeting gas prices resulting in more motorists on the streets. The growing rate of cell phone use also produces more distracted driving, thereby increasing the risk of a pedestrian related crash. Texting while driving, surfing the Internet, and talking on the phone are all forms of distracted driving.
As pedestrian accidents become more common, so too will litigation against cities and private parties alike. Although legal recourse is an effective means to end pedestrian related crashes, take the time to review pedestrian injury prevention standards. Cross the street only at designated crosswalks and bring a light or source of reflective material if walking at night. These tips should help reduce pedestrian-related crashes, but should an accident still occur, it may be necessary to have a team of experienced personal injury lawyers on your side. Call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-LAW-4004 for a free consultation on your case.