Study: California pedestrian fatalities dropped 11 percent in first half of 2016

Posted at 1:33 PM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 16:33:34-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - While the number of pedestrian traffic deaths across the nation increased in the first half of 2016 compared to 2015, recorded fatalities in California took a double-digit fall.

California's rate of pedestrian fatalities dropped 11 percent in the first six months of 2016 compared to the same time period a year before, according to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The national average over the same time span saw a 7-percent increase.

The survey estimated that pedestrian fatalities increased nationwide by 11 percent across all of 2016.

Between January and June 2016 the state registered 359 pedestrian fatalities, the most of any state over the six-month span. Wyoming registered the lowest amount with one death.

California's double-digit decrease was attributed to measures implemented to address pedestrian safety, including establishing a "Pedestrian Safety Month," public education, safety equipment, and collaboration with law enforcement and safety advocates.

"Many factors contribute to changes in the number of pedestrian fatalities, including economic conditions, demographics, weather, fuel prices, vehicle miles traveled, and the amount of time people spend walking," the survey stated.

The survey also found that about 6,000 pedestrian fatalities are estimated to have occurred nationwide in 2016, which could make it the first year in two decades with more than 6,000 pedestrian fatalities. The study noted that over the past 25 years, "pedestrians now account for the largest proportion of traffic fatalities."

"A more recent contributing factor may be the rapidly growing use of smart phones to access wireless data while walking and driving, which can be a significant source of distraction for both pedestrians and motorists," the survey said.

Ways to help pedestrians and drivers reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities included:

  • Refuge islands
  • Sidewalks and pedestrian overpasses/underpasses
  • Giving ample crossing time and countdown pedestrian signals
  • Pedestrian hybrid beacons 
  • New traffic signals where needed
  • Improved street lighting
  • High-visibility crosswalks
  • Roundabouts in place of stop signs and traffic signals
  • Speed bumps and curb extensions
  • Automated enforcement as opposed to traditional enforcement of traffic laws