Why Do Pedestrian Accidents Happen in California?

Updated: Sep 12

The Most Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents In California

Pedestrian safety is critical. This discussion has garnered more attention in recent years than ever before. As more people strive to live healthier lives, the number of people who walk, jog, or run on a daily basis has increased. We cross streets on a daily basis without paying much thought to the task or the risks involved. Thousands of Americans are killed or maimed every year as they navigate the nation's roadways, crosswalks, sidewalks, and crossings.

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Anyone who does not travel by car, motorcycle, or bicycle is referred to as a "pedestrian." Pedestrians are people who move by foot or on skateboards, roller skates, scooters, hoverboards, skateboards, or other similar modes of transportation. Pedestrians include people with impairments who travel in wheelchairs, tricycles, quadricycles, and other similar vehicles.

Statistics on Pedestrian Crashes

According to research findings:

  • Pedestrians are far more at risk than drivers and passengers in motor vehicles. The occupants of a passenger vehicle are 1.5 times less likely than pedestrians to be killed in an automobile accident every time they travel.

  • When a pedestrian is struck by a car, the chances of survival are directly proportional to the vehicle's speed. A pedestrian struck by a car going at 20 miles per hour has a 90% chance of surviving. When the vehicle is traveling at 40 miles per hour, however, the victim's chances of survival plummet to about 20%.

  • In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians died as a result of being struck by a vehicle, the highest annual amount since 1990.

  • In 2016, according to the NHTSA's statistics data:

  • Pedestrian deaths occurred at a rate of about one per 1.5 hours on average.

  • Pedestrian deaths accounted for 16% of all road fatalities.

  • 70% of pedestrians killed in road accidents were males.

  • Nearly half of all pedestrian fatalities (48%) involved drivers (13%) and pedestrians (33%) who were inebriated, defined as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 g/dL or above.

  • Nine out of ten (90%) pedestrians killed in traffic accidents were in single-vehicle collisions. Frontal collisions between passenger cars, minivans, pickup trucks, SUVs, and full-size vans killed the majority of these pedestrians.

  • Pedestrians killed by hit-and-run drivers accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths in car accidents.

California Fatalities

Pedestrian fatalities account for around 22 percent of all traffic-related deaths in California.

In 2016, California had 867 pedestrian fatalities (14.48 percent) of the total 5,987 pedestrian fatalities across all states.

Los Angeles County Pedestrian Fatalities

In 2016, there were 265 pedestrian fatalities in Los Angeles County, the greatest number of pedestrian fatalities of any other county in the United States.

Los Angeles Pedestrian Deaths

  • A pedestrian is killed in a traffic accident once every 40 hours in Los Angeles.

  • Los Angeles has the highest annual rate of traffic-related deaths among major U.S. cities. There are 6.27 fatalities per 100,000 people in Los Angeles, for example.

  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents account for only 14 percent of all traffic accidents in Los Angeles, according to LADOT statistics. Despite this, approximately half of all traffic-related deaths in the city are caused by these crashes.

  • In 2017, 134 pedestrians were killed in road accidents, the most in almost fifteen years.

Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents in California

Sidewalks That Aren't Built Right. Poorly designed sidewalks become the leading cause of collisions in places where there are uneven or rough stairs on walkways that can easily lead to tripping and falling of pedestrians. Furthermore, where paths are too small to allow many individuals to pass one other when traveling in opposing directions, one of them may have to yield to the other.

  • This could entail taking a step onto the road to allow the other to pass. While this may appear to be a courteous gesture, stepping onto the road puts the walker at risk of being struck by fast-moving vehicles that are unable to swerve to avoid hitting them. As a result, even when pedestrians fully comply with road restrictions, poorly constructed sidewalks cause far more harm than benefit in these instances and constitute an exacerbating factor.

  • When you encounter selfish pedestrians who refuse to slow down or give way in order to avoid colliding with other walkers, the issue becomes substantially worse. People who jog or sprint on sidewalks, for example, may refuse to stop even if the path is narrow, forcing you to step aside. If you trip and fall while trying to avoid these joggers or sprinters, it's considered a pedestrian collision, and you have the right to sue for any injuries you sustain.

Failure to Yield the Right of Way by the Driver. In a certain situation or area, right-of-way refers to a driver's or motorist's legal right to take precedence. Assume the traffic signals indicate that a pedestrian has the right of way and should go to the crosswalk. A car must allow the walker to cross the roadway before proceeding through the crosswalk or intersection area in this situation.

  • Failure to surrender the right of way occurs when a pedestrian or a driver violates the law by going without letting the person entitled to go first, such as a car failing to yield to walking at a crosswalk. This is also one of the most common causes of pedestrian accidents since when a walker and a car are both traveling at the same time, they are sure to crash.

Trucks and buses parked too near to the curb. Side mirrors on trucks and buses protrude beyond the border of the vehicle. When a bus stops at a bus stop, the side mirror could be dangerous to anyone standing near the walkway's edge. A bus approaching a bus terminal may be going fast enough to knock down a pedestrian with its side mirror, resulting in head injuries or other serious injuries.

  • A bus driver is usually taught how to run their vehicle and where to extend the side mirrors. The walker can file a claim for damages and loss if the vehicle is not attentive or reckless and causes a walker to be knocked over by the mirror. When a pedestrian is injured as a result of an employer's negligence, such as a bus driver's inattention, the pedestrian may file a lawsuit against the company. Employers may be held vicariously liable for the negligent acts of their employees under the state's "Respondent Superior" legislation.

Putting On Dark Clothes. The incidence of pedestrian accidents tends to increase as the day transitions to night. Wear white or light-colored clothing and carry a pocket flashlight to turn on when crossing streets if you plan on walking in the dark. Despite the fact that most crosswalks and crossroads are lit by street lamps and flashing lights, it is still difficult for cars to spot pedestrians who blend in with the night. Pedestrians should be expected to walk along the streets at night, and automobiles should be able to spot them.

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A Pedestrian is Injured by a Bicyclist on the Walkway. Bikes on the sidewalk could be dangerous for walkers. Cycling on sidewalks, on the other hand, is a policy that varies per city. Bicycling on sidewalks is illegal in some sections of the state, although it is permitted in others. However, even if cycling on the pathways is legal, if a bicyclist's negligence causes the incident, he or she may be liable for any injuries that ensue.

  • Cycling on sidewalks, for example, is legal under LA Municipal Code 56.15 as long as it isn't done recklessly or willfully endangering property or persons. If a biker was riding on the sidewalk and collided with a pedestrian, the pedestrian may be able to claim damages if he or she can show that:

  1. The crash was caused by the bicyclist's negligence.

  2. A bicyclist might be considered negligent per se if they were riding with a reckless or purposeful disregard for other people's safety, such as jumping over a walker's feet.

  • In areas where cycling on sidewalks is prohibited by local or city ordinances, a rider on the sidewalk that causes a collision may be held liable for any injuries he or she causes. Cycling on sidewalks in violation of the law could be considered negligent in and of itself in a pedestrian collision.

Getting Distracted. While some drivers text while driving, others check their mail. Others may be driving while staring out the window, taking selfies, eating, or conversing with people in the back. Drivers frequently ignore pedestrian crosswalks and run red lights as a result. If you're a pedestrian, a good rule of thumb is to make eye contact with an oncoming car's driver before crossing at a crosswalk. Although you have the right of way on a sidewalk, you should take all necessary care to prevent being hit by an inattentive driver and suffering serious injury.

Driving Recklessly. Pedestrian accidents are frequently caused by motorists who show a strong disregard for the safety of other road users. A pedestrian is likely to be a victim of a careless driver's vehicle. The collision and force that the vehicle produces on the pedestrian may result in serious injury.

  • Another prominent example of careless driving is when vehicles make unexpected turns or route overlaps that cause the vehicle to drift onto the walkways. This type of activity generally results in serious collisions with pedestrians who didn't notice it coming and are unable to move away in time. Typically, the driver who caused the incident bears entire responsibility, especially when the court considers factors such as their irresponsible driving.

  • Aggressive drivers are always hurrying to make it before the traffic lights turn red, forcing all vehicles to come to a complete halt. Failure to keep an eye out for any approaching pedestrians could mean the difference between causing and avoiding a collision. Certain responsible drivers frequently argue that they were driving recklessly because they were responding to an emergency. However, your Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer will do all possible to ensure that an argument like this does not prevent you from receiving a fair compensation sum for any losses or injuries you have suffered.

Drivers Under the Influence. The majority of pedestrian collisions occur at night. Perhaps you've just left a restaurant or a nightclub and need to cross the street to catch public transportation or an Uber. If that's the case, make sure you're walking on the sidewalk rather than crossing the street. During the later hours, drunk drivers frequently speed down the road. Because their vision is obstructed, they may miss you. If you cross at a crosswalk at an intersection, the inebriated driver is more likely to slow down due to the traffic lights.

  • Walkers who choose to stroll on the roads while inebriated may cause accidents. When you walk when inebriated, your bodily balance is significantly harmed, which means you'll be stumbling the entire time. Intoxicated pedestrians have been known to walk straight into the road or lose their balance altogether and fall precisely where vehicles are supposed to pass. When a motorist fails to see a pedestrian, they may knock them down or run them over, causing serious harm.

Drivers Making an Unobserved Left Turn at an Intersection. Pedestrian accidents are more likely to occur when drivers make a left turn at an intersection than when they make a right turn. When a driver makes a right turn, the walker crossing the street is immediately on their right. When a driver makes a left turn, however, the crossing pedestrian is normally on the opposite side of the road, several lanes away. As a result, most divers proceed to make a left turn without checking the crosswalk, resulting in an accident.

Crosswalks Aren't Provided On Some Roads. Crosswalks are not always present where they should be. As a result, people must cross the street at their own risk. Even if you're crossing the street in the absence of a crosswalk, a driver must exercise reasonable caution to avoid colliding with you. In other words, even if you are somewhat at fault, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses and injuries in a California pedestrian accident.

Cars That Are Quiet. There are several electric vehicles on the road now. Rather than a combustion engine, electric vehicles use batteries. As a result, they are substantially quieter than standard gas-powered vehicles. Pedestrians have a harder time anticipating an automobile when it is quieter. Any motorist on the road is required to keep their headlights on at all times of the day in order to be seen by walkers, even if they are unable to hear them approaching.

There's a bad weather situation. Weather conditions can be harsh at times, such as hazy, foggy, wet, and even icy. This results in blurred vision and a lack of vehicle control. In this case, a driver may end up colliding with a pedestrian. Heavy rainfall can break tree branches, which can hit a pedestrian and cause serious injury, especially if they land on sensitive body areas like the eyes or head.

  • You or the motorist are not at fault if you are engaged in a pedestrian accident caused by severe weather. You may, however, be entitled to reimbursement. The court will evaluate the evidence submitted and determine how much the motorist owes you.

Roads with several lanes (arterials). Pedestrians may be endangered by multi-lane highways. Drivers must be aware of other drivers' speeding, lane changes, tailgating, and hazardous lane changes. Most drivers, on the other hand, don't bother to look out for pedestrians or even pay attention to traffic signals.

Reverse-driving vehicles. When backing up, most drivers are instructed to glance behind them. Pedestrians, on the other hand, should never assume that a driver is paying attention when backing up. Drivers frequently rely on their rear-view mirrors to guide them. At best, the mirrors provide a limited perspective. As a result, it's best to be cautious. When driving in reverse, motorists should always turn completely around. Mirrors should not be relied upon.

Pulling Out of the Driveway. The driveway may appear to be a safe haven for pedestrians, yet it can be the scene of a catastrophic collision. Every day, and more than once a day, drivers pull out of their driveways. Most drivers don't check their side, front, or rear-view mirrors before leaving the driveway because it's such a common occurrence. The motorist's unintended actions may result in a catastrophic outcome for a pedestrian crossing at this precise moment.

  • Even at modest speeds (such as while backing out of the driveway), vehicles can cause serious injury to susceptible walkers. The vehicle's impact may strike a pedestrian, sweeping him or her beneath the carriage and, in some cases, the wheels. A pedestrian may lose limbs, have them broken, suffer head trauma, organ damage, spine injuries, and even die.

  • Minors are especially vulnerable to being hit by cars pulling out of driveways. Children may be victims if an uninformed driver fails to check their mirrors thoroughly before leaving the driveway due to their small size and fast movements.

A Pedestrian is knocked down by a dog. Dog owners who aren't in control of their pets may be to blame for serious collisions. Large dogs have a tendency to jump up on children and knock them down. A loose dog may also chase passersby, causing them to tumble over and injure themselves. Although the dog may have caused the accident, the dog owner is responsible for his or her dog's behavior.

  • When a dog knocks over or assaults a pedestrian, the injured party must usually show that the dog owner was irresponsible. This could include proving that the dog's owner was aware or should have been aware that the dog posed a danger to pedestrians and did nothing to protect them.

  • However, if the dog owner is breaking a municipal or state law, any harm caused by the dog makes them liable under carelessness per se rules. This could include letting a dog off the leash in an area where leashes are prohibited or necessary.

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Pedestrian Safety Walking Guidelines

In California, pedestrians have the right-of-way. They do, however, have an obligation to follow the rules of the road. Pedestrians are advised to follow the following pedestrian safety rules by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") and the California Department of Motor Vehicles ("DMV" ):

  • In most cases, drivers of motor vehicles must surrender the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing streets, regardless of whether crosswalks are marked or unmarked. When making a turn, though, a driver may not detect a pedestrian in his or her path. When crossing a street, always be cautious.

  • If feasible, utilize designated crosswalks or junctions with traffic lights when crossing streets. In these regions, drivers expect to see pedestrians.

  • Make no needless stops while in a crosswalk because such pauses generate traffic delays and disturbances.

  • Avoid causing traffic congestion by abruptly exiting a curb or otherwise appearing in front of oncoming vehicles.

  • If a parked car blocks your view of the roadway, stop at the line parallel to the car's edge and carefully inspect the street to ensure there are no oncoming vehicles.