Deadly pedestrian accidents are becoming worryingly common in the Golden State. According to figures released by the California Office of Traffic Safety, pedestrians made up more than a quarter of the state’s traffic accident fatalities in 2020. The data also reveals that almost one in four of the 6,516 California pedestrians who died in car accidents in 2020 were struck and killed by hit-and-run drivers. Road safety experts are worried that a bill recently signed into law by Gov. Newsom could make the problem even worse in the years ahead.
Hit and run
Drivers who leave the scenes of fatal auto pedestrian accidents in California face up to 15 years behind bars, which is why many of them eventually decide to turn themselves in. That is how events unfolded in late 2022 when police in Torrance started an investigation into a deadly hit-and-run accident. Media reports described the white Ford truck that crashed and claimed the life of a 78-year-old pedestrian, which prompted the Castaic man behind the wheel to surrender to the authorities.
The Freedom to Walk Act
California has been notorious for its strict enforcement of jaywalking laws, but that all changed in September when the Freedom to Walk Act was signed into law. The law allows pedestrians to cross roads whenever they feel safe doing so, and it limits the situations where police officers can interfere. Some advocacy groups have praised the Freedom to Walk Act, but may road safety professionals think it will lead to even more pedestrian deaths.
Pedestrians not to blame
The roads in California are becoming increasingly dangerous for pedestrians, and rigorous law enforcement does not seem to be making things any better. Laws like the Freedom to Walk Act may sometimes be blamed for rising pedestrian fatalities, but the real culprits are impaired, distracted or reckless drivers.