Pedestrian deaths on the rise in Los Angeles and nationwide

This article looks at why pedestrian fatalities have been surging in both Los Angeles and across the U.S.

Last year was not a good one to be a pedestrian in Los Angeles. As the Los Angeles Times reports, city Transportation Department officials recently released statistics on 2017 traffic fatalities, which showed that pedestrian fatalities had spiked to a 15-year high. Los Angeles is hardly alone in seeing fatal pedestrian accidents increase. In fact, nationwide pedestrian deaths have reached 25-year highs, with distracted driving, bigger cities, and even legal marijuana being blamed for the increase.

Pedestrian fatalities up in L.A.

In 2017, there were 134 pedestrian deaths in Los Angeles, which is an 80 percent surge from the 74 pedestrians who were killed in Los Angeles in 2015. The surge comes at a time when the city has been touting its Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths entirely in Los Angeles by 2025. The initiative was signed in 2015 and called for traffic deaths to be lowered by 20 percent by 2017. While overall traffic fatalities did fall by six percent last year, the high number of pedestrian deaths helped make that 20 percent cut unattainable.

However, the rise in pedestrian deaths is not a problem that is unique to Los Angeles. As NPR reports, a recent estimate from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that nationwide pedestrian deaths in 2017 remained near 25-year highs at approximately 6,000 fatalities. Overall, the U.S. saw pedestrian fatalities increase by 27 percent between 2007 and 2016.

"Perfect storm" of factors

The GHSA says that there is no single reason why pedestrian deaths are rising. Rather, the increase is due to a "perfect storm" of factors. For one, there are both more cars on the road, thanks to a recovering economy and lower gas prices, combined with more people moving to cities, where pedestrian accidents are most common. The combination of those two factors make pedestrian accidents more likely to happen.

Distracted driving is also likely to blame, although the GHSA was unable to definitively state how much of a factor it was in the increase due to a lack of reliable data.

Finally, the GHSA noted that there was a correlation between jurisdictions that legalized recreational marijuana between 2012 and 2016 and pedestrian fatalities. Those jurisdictions (which do not include California, where recreational marijuana only became legal in 2017) collectively saw a 16.4 percent increase in pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2017, whereas all other states saw a 5.8 percent decrease.

Help after an accident

For those who have been hurt in an accident, it is important to know that help is available, often in the form of financial compensation through one's insurance. However, making a claim with an insurance company is rarely easy or straightforward and getting the maximum possible compensation can be a struggle. That's why anybody who has been hurt in a crash should contact a personal injury atto rney who can help clients with their claim and represent them aggressively in any negotiations with their insurer.

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