Pedestrian deaths hit all-time yearly high in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Bay Area's largest city hit an unfortunate milestone over the weekend as the number of pedestrian fatalities reached an all-time yearly high.

On Saturday night, a man walking in traffic on Story Road near Karl Street was killed after being struck by a vehicle. In this case, the driver stayed and cooperated with police, who say drugs and alcohol do not appear to be factors.

RELATED: Questions raised about pedestrian safety in SJ after 2 killed by cars over 6-hour span

The incident, which marked San Jose's 25th pedestrian fatality of the year, has many people thinking twice before hitting the roads.

"It gets you thinking and it makes you kind of aware of the potential that we are in a shared space between pedestrians and vehicles," said San Jose resident Alice Shrimpton.

Kelly Snider, a land use consultant and urban planning expert, who also teaches at San Jose State University, says the high fatality rate isn't a surprise given the city's overall growth and dependency on automobiles.

"We have more people. We have more pedestrians. We have more drivers. So that means, statistically, there's going to be a greater chance of conflict," said Snider. "Our challenge is to fix the environment so that everybody is equally safe."

San Jose's Vision Zero program aims to eliminate all traffic deaths in the city, but transportation officials will be the first to admit they have a long way to go.

RELATED: Concern grows after 24th pedestrian struck, killed by vehicle this year in San Jose

"Big infrastructure changes take a lot of time. Changing the way that roads were built is a long process," said Colin Heyne, a spokesperson for the San Jose Department of Transportation.

Some people hope the tragedy serves as wake up call during the holidays.

"There's always going to be drivers that are a bit reckless, and you've always got to keep your guard," said San Jose resident Justin Estonilo.

As the nights get longer, and the roads get wetter, the city expects vehicle fatalities to go up through the end of the winter season. To fight the spike, San Jose has launched an outreach campaign, asking drivers to be mindful. Heyne added, "To be on their best behavior, to look out for others, and to not let their bad decision become somebody's fatal incident."

The identity of the victim in Saturday's incident will be released pending next of kin notification. Overall, this was the city's 56th traffic-related fatality of the year.

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