California sees more than most states when it comes to pedestrian deaths, and the number of people dying while walking its streets is rising rapidly. Many believe that several different factors are contributing to the uptick in California’s pedestrian deaths. So, figuring out how to reduce or eliminate them should help lower how many pedestrian fatalities occur in California each year.
The Sacramento Bee reports that, as of 2020, California ranked ninth in the nation as far as pedestrian deaths per capita.
Pedestrian fatality statistics
In 2019, California had 1.31 pedestrian deaths for every 100,000 residents. To put this in perspective, Vermont, the safest state for pedestrians, had 0.18 pedestrian deaths per every 100,000 residents. Between January and June of 2019, there were 519 pedestrian deaths across California. This is a 12% increase and 55 more fatalities than seen during the same six-month span the year prior.
Many pedestrian deaths result from similar circumstances. Alcohol consumption by either the pedestrian or motorist played a role in almost half of all fatal crashes involving pedestrians in 2018. Driver distraction is also a frequent factor in pedestrian deaths.
The increasing popularity of SUVs is another likely contributor. When smaller cars strike pedestrians, they may cause less damage than larger, heavier SUVs. They may also strike pedestrians lower on their bodies, whereas SUVs may be more likely to cause organ damage and other serious injuries.
Pedestrian deaths are also rising at the national level. Yet, questions remain about why California continues to outpace most other states when it comes to these often-preventable fatalities.