Los Angeles Second-Deadliest U.S. City for Pedestrians in Past Decade

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Roadways More Dangerous for Pedestrians as Deaths Hit 4-Decade High

Roadways More Dangerous for Pedestrians as Deaths Hit 4-Decade High

Jan 24, 2023

American streets have become more dangerous in recent years, particularly for pedestrians. In response to a spike in pedestrian traffic accidents leading to injuries as well as fatalities, a number of major cities adopted Vision Zero initiatives.

Los Angeles Second-Deadliest U.S. City for Pedestrians in Past Decade

First implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero is a strategy aimed at eliminating all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. The program utilizes a “multidisciplinary approach” to the issue of traffic accidents and brings together “diverse and necessary stakeholders to address this complex problem.”

Vision Zero acknowledges that many factors contribute to safe mobility – including roadway design, speeds, behaviors, technology, and policies – and sets clear goals to achieve the shared goal of zero fatalities and severe injuries,” the official website indicates.

While the Vision Zero program has proved to be successful across Europe, American cities such as Los Angeles and New York have not seen such results. In fact, a new study indicates that in some major American cities where Vision Zero has been implemented, streets have actually become deadlier for pedestrians.

Study Finds Los Angeles Ranks as Second-Deadliest American City for Pedestrians

Vision Zero “focus cities” throughout the U.S. include:

  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Portland, OR
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC

But as a new study confirms, pedestrians deaths have skyrocketed in the past decade – even in cities where Vision Zero was implemented. And only one city in the U.S. has outnumbered Los Angeles in pedestrian fatalities.

“While 1,133 pedestrians have died in crashes in Los Angeles between 2011 and 2020, New York City was even deadlier, with 1,260 pedestrians killed over the same time period,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

And both New York and Los Angeles have outpaced the rest of the country in pedestrian traffic deaths despite adopting the Vision Zero initiatives.

Although advocates for public safety are frustrated by the study’s findings, experts familiar with the matter don’t consider the numbers surprising.

“We’re not surprised [by the data]. We saw Vision Zero was launched six years ago in Los Angeles and sadly we’ve seen more traffic fatalities since Vision Zero was launched and it even got worse during the pandemic,” Eli Lipmen, executive director of Move L.A., a group that advocates for an expanded public transportation system in Los Angeles, told the Times.

Additionally, Lipmen emphasized to the Times how people of color are disproportionately affected by traffic injuries and fatalities, with pre-pandemic data confirming that South Los Angeles recorded nearly half of all local accidents.

We’ve always seen this as a real equity issue,” Lipmen said to the Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation oversees pedestrian safety. The organization’s interim general manager, Connie Llanos, told the Times that in L.A., “poor people of color, children, and seniors face the greatest risks of falling victim to traffic violence.”

“While we have installed more than 6,000 new crosswalks, signals, street signs, and other safety treatments over the last five years to make our neighborhoods safer [and] it is clear that we have more work to do,” Llanos said in a statement.

Significant Increase in Los Angeles-area Pedestrian Deaths Confirmed

Pedestrian deaths in Los Angeles have steadily increased in recent years despite Vision Zero being implemented in 2015:

  • In 2021, 128 people were killed in pedestrian-involved crashes
  • That figure represented a 6% increase from 2020
  • In 2022, 135 people were killed in pedestrian-involved crashes through November 26 – exceeding the figures from 2021 with over 30 days srtill remaining in the calendar year.

And as the study conducted by Jerry – an insurance comparison website – confirmed, pedestrian fatalities are rising across the nation.

American Pedestrian Deaths Reach Highest Number in Four Decades

American Pedestrian Deaths Reach Highest Number in Four Decades

The Jerry study looked at National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) data from 2011 through 2021. In that decade, some troubling findings were confirmed:

  • The number of pedestrians killed by drivers each year rose 65% from 2011 through 2021.
  • In 2021, pedestrian deaths totaled 7,342, the highest number in four decades.
  • In 2021, pedestrian fatalities rose 13% from the previous year.
  • Nearly one in five traffic fatalities recorded in 2021 was a person on foot.
  • Minorities are more likely to die as pedestrians on America’s roads. In 2020, the most recent year for which such data was available, Black people accounted for 19% of pedestrian fatalities but only 13.6% of the population. White people accounted for only 37% of pedestrian deaths but 76% of the population.
  • Passenger cars still kill more pedestrians every year than SUVs (2,528 vs. 1,313 in 2020), but the number of pedestrians killed by an SUV grew twice as fast from 2011 to 2020 as those killed by passenger cars (76% vs. 37%).
  • Nearly a third of pedestrians killed in 2020 had a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.08, the legal limit used to define drunk driving. A quarter had a level of 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit.
  • From 2011 to 2020, only 26% of pedestrian fatalities occurred at an intersection, while 91% of pedestrians were on the roadway when they were struck. This indicates most victims were either crossing a road where there was no pedestrian crosswalk or walking along a road with no sidewalk.
  • Four of every five pedestrian deaths occur in an urban area.

As the graph below indicates, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of pedestrian traffic fatalities has surged.

Pedestrian deaths doubled in 10 states from 2011 through 2020.

Some additional findings from the Jerry study include:

  • Pedestrian deaths doubled in 10 states from 2011 through 2020.
  • The number tripled in two states: Kansas and New Hampshire.
  • Only eight states experienced a decline:
    • Massachusetts
    • New York
    • Wisconsin
    • North Dakota
    • West Virginia
    • Maine
    • Hawaii
    • Pennsylvania
  • Nearly all of the states with the most pedestrian fatalities per capita are located in the South, Southwest, or West.
  • New York topped freeway-heavy Los Angeles in total pedestrian deaths (despite being much smaller geographically).
  • Three Texas cities rank among the six deadliest for pedestrians.

Why Have U.S. Pedestrian Deaths Increased?

The increase in pedestrian accident injuries and fatalities across the U.S. is alarming, but determining the causation isn’t clear-cut. The Jerry study points to many potential factors, such as:

  • A surge in aggressive driving and overall traffic fatalities since the outbreak of COVID-19 (both of which can be at least partly blamed on mental stress resulting from the challenges of navigating the pandemic)
  • American drivers’ passion for ever-bigger vehicles (sport-utility vehicles are far heavier and therefore deadlier to anyone they hit than your average passenger car)
  • Alcohol consumption by pedestrians

“Ultimately, most of America’s roads are profoundly unfriendly to pedestrians, making the factors above that much deadlier. There are far too few sidewalks and pedestrian crossings and too many high-speed, high-traffic-volume roads cutting through densely populated urban areas. As long as that’s the case, being a pedestrian in the U.S. will be riskier than it should be,” the Jerry study noted.

How to Recover Compensation After a Pedestrian Accident Injury

If you’ve been injured as a pedestrian in a traffic accident, you may be facing a number of hardships. Head trauma (TBI, MTBI/concussion) and other severe injuries commonly occur as a result of pedestrian accidents, leaving a victim with a long road to recovery.

To ensure that you recover financial compensation for losses such as medical bills and reduced wages, a pedestrian accident civil lawsuit with Dordulian Law Group (DLG) can be filed. DLG’s pedestrian accident attorneys have decades of experience fighting on behalf of injured victims for justice and maximum financial compensation. We will pursue all applicable damages within your pedestrian accident claim, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages and/or reduced future earning capacity
  • Punitive damages
  • Hospital bills
  • Medical care expenses – past and future
  • Medication/prescription drug costs
  • Physical therapy/rehabilitation expenses – past and future
  • Psychological distress/emotional trauma

DLG’s pedestrian accident lawyers are skilled at securing all applicable damages for your injury claim – even those that are hard to quantify/prove such as pain and suffering.

For a free and no obligation consultation regarding your pedestrian accident injury, contact a member of the DLG team today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM. DLG was founded by Sam Dordulian, a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County with over 25 years of experience helping injured victims secure justice.

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

DLG’s personal injury attorneys have recovered over $100,000,000.00 in settlements and verdict for clients. Contact us today to discuss your pedestrian accident injury case.


Go See Sam