Study: California worst in the nation in pedestrian safety

Frank S. Clowney III

While California has easily the biggest economy among the 50 states, we lag to one degree or another in some other important areas such as education, health care and crime. Unfortunately, we are at the very bottom of a critical component of public safety: pedestrian accidents.

The most recent pedestrian crash statistics are from the first half of last year, and the numbers are grim: California led the nation in pedestrian fatalities.

According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, the states with the most pedestrian deaths in the first half of last year are:

  • California: 432
  • Florida: 330
  • Texas: 298
  • Georgia: 133
  • Arizona: 125
  • New York: 117
  • North Carolina: 102
  • Pennsylvania: 90
  • Illinois: 80
  • Louisiana: 77

The Governors Highway Safety Association also said that in the decade ending in 2017, pedestrian fatalities across the nation rose by 35 percent. However, our rate of pedestrian traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents actually dropped 8 percent from 2008 to 2017. Unfortunately, that still leaves us in the top ten in the U.S.

The study’s authors also said that based on projections from the first half of 2018, pedestrian accidents resulting in deaths will increase by about 4 percent from 2017.

They did laud some steps California is taking to reduce pedestrian accidents, injuries and fatalities, including classroom and group safety presentations; crosswalk driving law enforcement; and positive reinforcement citations for kids who demonstrate safe walking behaviors, among others.

The group suggests that a couple of factors contribute to the continued increase in pedestrian collisions, including distracted driving and the public’s appetite for large vehicles.