Not so long ago we wrote a post about pedestrian accident statistics in U.S. which included California as ranking #14 in fatal injury rates. Yesterday, Mayor Villaraigosa announced that 53 crosswalks would be painted with 2’ wide stripes with an additional stopping line around L.A. to reduce vehicle-pedestrian crash rates. The new initiative to add better intersection markings near schools, transit lines and frequent accident locations aims to slash fatality figures around town.
“Los Angeles is in the midst of a transportation renaissance” – stated Villaraigosa.
The city is focusing on improving pedestrian safety through rail, bikeway and crosswalk expansion. According to the article 1% of the intersections (targeted by this initiative) are responsible for 5% of vehicle-pedestrian accidents.
This sounds like a great initiative on the surface, after all – who wouldn’t want their intersections marked clearly so that the vehicle stops in time?
Does this mean pedestrian accidents will be reduced as much as intended?
Let’s take a look at the national stats on pedestrian fatalities:
According to the data sited in “Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise” 79% of pedestrian fatalities occur at non-intersections. This means that any changes to intersections would only account for a fraction of total fatal incidents.
My question is, what about the other 95% of pedestrian accidents? Where is the data to support the idea of better crosswalk markings to reduce accident frequency?
Of course it sounds very logical that a clearly marked crosswalk will increase safety, but to what extent? Crosswalks are already located at intersections where drivers should know better to stop and look.
As someone who has spent a great deal of time walking around Los Angeles, I have witnessed unsafe driving behavior every day at crosswalks. Most of it can be attributed to running a red light or turning without yielding. There were at least a few times where I came close to being run over. Had I not looked and waited for the hesitant driver (who failed to yield or ran a light) I may not have been around to write this.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome that our city is making an effort to improve pedestrian safety. We are well behind other major cities on bicycle and walking safety and it’s nice that someone actually cares to change that. But, it wouldn’t hurt to see some information about the other 95% of pedestrian crashes and what’s being done / planned to stop them.
Do you think the newly painted crosswalks will serve their intended purpose with full effectiveness?
This post was written by Gene Maryushenko and does not reflect the views or opinions of the law firm of Fisher & Talwar. Gene frequently writes on the blog of pedestrian accident lawyer Vibhu Talwar.