San Francisco is a beautiful city full of interesting places for pedestrians to explore. However, the crosswalks and intersections of the San Francisco Bay Area leave walkers vulnerable to serious injury or even death. This is a City marked by distracted drivers and people in a hurry and pedestrians have to be on high alert.
In 2009, more than 7,000 people nationally died from intersection accidents, and the number of pedestrian accidents is expected to grow each year if changes are not made.
When most streets were designed years ago, fewer people walked or pedaled their way from place to place. The roads worked to get cars moving quickly through the roadways and get people to their destinations on time. However, the street plans failed to anticipate the social shifts that would occur as the years passed.
Today, people of all ages walk not only to get somewhere but also to exercise. A growing demographic of walkers, though, are Baby Boomers. As they age, they are moving to cities to retire and to enjoy their golden years. Thanks to advances in medicine and technology, the number of those golden years is increasing.
The elderly, and families with small children especially, are being challenged by the current state of crosswalks and intersections. Signal speeds are set to accommodate cars moving swiftly but not for those who walk more slowly.
Protecting the Most Vulnerable
The good news is that the Federal Highway Administration and other public and private organizations are working to bring awareness of the lack of intersection safety and to initiate change. Through their work in communities throughout the United States – including San Francisco – speed bumps, medians and extended curbs are being added to roadways. Timing of intersection signals is being adjusted to accommodate slower-moving individuals. In some places, countdown signals have been installed to provide audible notification for signal changes.
Law enforcement has also stepped up to play a larger role in keeping pedestrians safe. Fines and other penalties for speeding and for ignoring traffic signals have increased, as have the consequences of not allowing pedestrians to have the right of way.
The justice system has also taken a stand in protecting pedestrians. When an injury-causing accident does occur due to the negligence of a driver, the survivor has rights. It is important for the injured party to consult with an experienced San Francisco personal injury attorney to discuss their legal options for holding negligent drivers accountable and for pursuing financial compensation.