CA roads are 3rd deadliest in US for pedestrians, data shows. Here's how Bay Area counties fare

Thursday, January 25, 2024
This Bay Area county is ranked the worst for pedestrian fatalities
California's roadways are the third-deadliest state for pedestrians and data shows which Bay Area county is the worst as officials work to improve.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A quarter of California's fatalities are pedestrians, and that trend has worsened over the past decade.

In 2012, there were 653 pedestrian fatalities statewide, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analyzed by the ABC7 News I-Team. That jumped to 1,108 in 2021. California's roadways are the third-deadliest state for pedestrians.

"They're fatalities. We're not talking about near hits," said State Sen. Anthony Portantino, (D-Glendale). "We're talking about fatalities. We're talking about pedestrians and bikers who are being killed because they're in a public space."

Graph not displaying correctly? Click here to open in a new window.

"We are seeing nationally, pedestrian deaths are the highest they've been since 1981," said Jonathan Adkins, the CEO of the Governors Highway Safety Association. "That's kind of crazy because our vehicles are safer. We've made a lot of improvements in technology, but yet we're killing more and more people just because they're going out for a walk."

Adkins said all of these crashes are preventable.

"We want to have our infrastructure such that it allows for mistakes to happen," Adkins added. "And mistakes shouldn't kill you just because you don't cross at a crosswalk. That doesn't mean you should die. That's insane!"

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan was killed after being struck by a car while walking her dog in November 2021. The city later identified that intersection as a high-injury intersection.

Alameda County is ranked one of the worst counties in the Bay Area for pedestrian fatalities. Twenty-eight lives were lost in 2021, which was more than one-third of overall traffic deaths. The other counties reporting the most pedestrian fatalities that year include Santa Clara with 35, Contra Costa with 20, and San Francisco with 15 -- the highest it's been since 2018.

Graph not displaying correctly? Click here to open in a new window.

A San Mateo family had a safe place to cross the street in September of 2022, yet video shows a young girl on her scooter nearly get hit by a SUV speeding through a stop sign.

RELATED: Video shows girl nearly hit by car in San Mateo crosswalk; city to improve safety at intersection

Dashcam footage shared with ABC7 News captured the shocking moment an SUV came within inches of a little girl at a crosswalk in San Mateo.

Since then, a new law passed the state legislature that allows six California cities to pilot speed cameras, including three in the Bay Area.

In San Francisco, 33 speed cameras will be installed this year. The effort intends to slow drivers down.

A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found a vehicle going 42 mph is five times more likely to kill a pedestrian it hits than if it were going 25 mph.

"California has never prioritized pedestrian safety, alternative transportation safety," Portantino said.

He proposed a bill requiring a county or city to identify high-injury streets and intersections in its general plan and prioritize safety improvements to reduce collisions by 2025. The governor signed bill SB 932 into law in 2022. Cities and counties have two years from then to implement the plans.

RELATED: Oakland leaders vow to stop pedestrian deaths after woman hit by 2 cars while crossing street

Oakland leaders vow to stop pedestrian deaths after a 59-year-old woman was hit by two cars while crossing the street.

"It forces cities to have more skin in the game," said Portantino. "And there are significant resources that have been programed through the state to prioritize this. We just need to hold cities more accountable to make sure that they access those dollars."

One example is the city of Alameda's Vision Zero Action Plan, which is an effort to try and eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries by 2035.

The city's Acting Transportation Planning Manager, Lisa Foster, explained what's been accomplished since its inception.

"So in just over two years, safety improvements have been installed at over 130 intersections throughout the city," Foster told ABC7. "Plus, non-intersection improvements on five and a half miles of roadway."

RELATED: Video shows driver hitting grandma, toddler in stroller on SJ street

San Jose police are searching for the driver of a gray 2012 Mazda 3, who is responsible for a hit-and-run that injured a 3-year-old and his grandma.

Some of the enhancements include new lighting, upgraded crosswalk markings, and new programmed pedestrian intervals at 68 intersections that allow pedestrians to get a few second head start on a green light before vehicles.

"In the last couple of years, about three-quarters of our police department's traffic enforcement stops occurred on high injury corridors," said Foster. "So they are prioritizing the most dangerous locations."

The I-Team reviewed the city's plan and found dozens of intersections labeled 'high injury' for pedestrians - many of which are near hospitals, schools, and parks.

"We've put a lot of effort into enforcement," said Portantino, adding enhanced awareness leads to more accountability.

Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live