The Governors Highway Safety Association has released its preliminary findings, which show that around 700 pedestrians died in California after being hit by motor vehicles in 2014, and 701 were killed in 2013. In the country as a whole, 4,735 pedestrians died on the roads of the U.S. in 2013, and there were an almost equal number of victims in 2014, writes Charles Fleming for the Los Angeles Times.
California the worst state for pedestrian deaths
The study revealed that pedestrian deaths are not rising in line with an increasing population, but it would appear that education, enforcement and engineering programs are having little effect in reducing road deaths.
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“This is a clearly a good news, bad news scenario,” said Jonathan Adkins, the GHSA’s executive director. “While we’re encouraged that pedestrian fatalities haven’t increased over the past two years, progress [toward eliminating pedestrian deaths] has been slow.”
Pedestrian deaths as a percentage of overall motor vehicle deaths continue to rise, despite the efforts of authorities and a general improvement in motor vehicle safety. In the year 2000, approximately 11% of all motor vehicle deaths were pedestrians, while last year that number was 14%.
However some states has much higher percentages of pedestrian deaths. In California that number was 23%, far above the national average. The highest figure of 45% was recorded in the District of Colombia, which is pedestrian-heavy.
California’s per capita fatality rate was 1.83 per 100,000, compared to 2.7 in Delaware and 2.56 in Florida. Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana and South Carolina all had per capita rates over 2.0.
Speed an important factor
The large Californian population seems to have something to do with the results, but that does not mean the situation could not be improved. Overall 70% of pedestrian fatalities occurred during the night, and 70% of victims were male. Over a third of adults involved in those incidents were over the legal limit for alcohol.
One major factor in pedestrian deaths was speed. Figures for 2013 show that 19% of pedestrian deaths occurred in areas where the speed limit was less than 35 mph, and over 25% occurred where speed limits were between 35 and 40 mph.
Lower speed limits would appear to be a good step in reducing pedestrian deaths. The study said that a car moving at 40 mph is three times more likely to kill a pedestrian than one moving at 25 mph.