According to a new report from Transportation for America, the Southern California metro area is the most dangerous for pedestrians. In addition, there have been 491 deaths statewide last year. Lack of sidewalks and crosswalks spaced too far apart are two of the main causes of these accidents. The report entitled, “Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Deaths”, investigates why there has been such an increase in pedestrian deaths.
For one California family, their son has become a statistic, but they are trying to fix the problem that caused this accident in the first place. One year after the accident that left Adam Wilhite with severe brain injuries and in a coma; his father is suing the city of Westminster for $75 million dollars.
The suit claims that the city failed to provide proper lighting, safety features and signs at the intersection of Goldenwest Street and Sowell Avenue. The police report claims that Adam was at fault for the accident due to the fact that he was not in a crosswalk and failed to yield the right-of-way to a close vehicle. His parent’s argue that the car that hit him was travelling at an excessive speed as well as other contributing factors. The driver was not charged.
Adams’ parents visit the accident site frequently and they often see several kids from both Marina and Westminster high schools crossing at this very location. The lawsuit argues that due to the proximity of the high schools, there should better access to crosswalks for the children. School areas are especially vulnerable. See this article about a high incidence of pedestrian accidents close to Northridge University.
As congress prepares to rewrite the nation’s transportation laws, it is urgent that our spending priorities and policies keep our states, counties and cities safe for pedestrians. Although nationwide, pedestrian deaths account for 11.8% of all traffic deaths, only 1.5 percent of transportation funds are spent on efforts to improve pedestrian safety such as crosswalks and sidewalks.
As with most preventable deaths, ethnic minorities, children and the elderly are disproportionally affected in the more than 76,000 Americans that have died over the past 15 years on their city streets. Many cities traffic patterns have changed from main street to arterial roads and this is the cause of over half of the deaths. The rest are caused by poorly designed sidewalks and crossing areas.
If you are experiencing too many accidents in your community, take action and speak to your local representatives about pedestrian deaths and make sure that they know about these two programs:
Adopt a National Complete Streets Policy
This will ensure that all federally funded road projects take into account the needs of all users, including pedestrians, the elderly, and the disabled so they are able to travel safely on our city streets.
Expand the Safe Routes to School Programs This program allows communities to incorporate critical safety measures to allow children a safe path for walking and bicycling to school.
For a full copy of this report, you can download a pdf version at www.t4america.org/
James Ballidis is the managing attorney for Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie advancing the rights of pedestrians injured or the victim of wrongful death in California. If you need help call 1 866 981-5596.