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Fatal pedestrian accidents in California finally decrease

In recent years, public safety officials expressed serious concern about the number of pedestrian accidents plaguing streets in California and across the country. Crash data from the Governors Safety Highway Association validates these fears: Between 2009 and 2012, fatal pedestrian accidents increased by 15 percent. This happened despite the fact that overall traffic fatalities fell 3 percent nationwide during the same time frame.

The latest report from the traffic safety organization is more optimistic, however. Pedestrian fatalities decreased by nearly 9 percent over the first six months of 2013 when compared to the first half of 2012. Responding to the findings, the leader of the Governors Safety Highway Association expressed cautious optimism, since local officials and pedestrians shouldn't let their guards down.

Although some of the 50 states had increases in the number of fatal pedestrian accidents, most didn't. In fact, California was one of the states with the largest decrease in pedestrian fatalities, seeing a year-over-year decrease of 37 deaths.

The report also went further to provide potential explanation for the trends. Not only is it unclear exactly why pedestrian fatalities increased so markedly between 2009 and 2012, but safety officials also aren't able to explain the more recent decrease. However, they have noted efforts to increase overall traffic safety in recent years, which includes measures for everyone who is on or near the road and not just motorists.

Of course, motorists have a responsibility to pay attention. Becoming distracted behind the wheel poses a major threat to pedestrians in urban areas -- even at relatively low speeds.

At the same time, public infrastructure plays a major role in protecting the safety of pedestrians. Keeping this mind, it may be critical to fully investigate a motor vehicle accident involving pedestrians. Victims and their loved ones could benefit from knowing whether negligent or defective infrastructure design contributed to a crash.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, "Reversal in Three-Year Uptick in Pedestrian Fatalities," March 5, 2014

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