California Is the Deadliest State for Pedestrians. Can This New Law Help?

Daylighting law in CaliforniaThere has been a dramatic increase in pedestrian accidents over the past few years. Cities, suburbs, and rural areas have all been affected, in every single state.

California lawmakers are hoping to reverse this trend with a newly enacted law. Assembly Bill 413 went into effect on January 1, and it gives drivers one full year to get used to the new rules before cities can start issuing tickets. Per the Los Angeles Times, “drivers will need to consider the areas around crosswalks as no-park zones,” and “get into the habit of leaving a 20-foot gap between their vehicle and any marked or unmarked crosswalks.”

This is called “daylighting,” and the goal is to ensure that all people using the roadway – whether they’re driving on it or crossing it by foot – have a clear line of sight at all times.

Assemblymember Alex Lee authored the bill, explaining that over 40 other states have passed similar laws. In a statement issued last year, Lee said, “Daylighting is a proven way we can make our streets safer for everyone, and 43 other states have already implemented some version of daylighting. By making it easier for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists to see each other at intersections, we can take a simple and important step to help us all safely share the road.”

The data on pedestrian injuries and fatalities in Los Angeles

While all accidents are a concern in Los Angeles, pedestrian accidents are especially alarming. Spectrum News recently reported that motor vehicle fatalities dropped by 10 percent in 2022, but pedestrian fatalities did the complete opposite, increasing by 19 percent when compared to previous years. In Los Angeles specifically, 134 pedestrian fatalities and 427 pedestrian injuries occurred from January to October in 2023. This was a 13-percent increase in pedestrian fatalities and an 18-percent increase in pedestrian injuries when compared to 2022.

What is causing the increasing pedestrian injuries and fatalities?

In Los Angeles specifically, there are several factors that are causing increasing amounts of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Some of these factors include:

  • Distracted driving: According to the California Office of Traffic Safety’s latest data, “In 2021, 140 people were killed in California in crashes involving a distracted driver, an increase of 27.3% from 2020,” and in 2023, “74.2% percent of Californians identified distracted driving (texting or talking) as their biggest traffic safety concern on California roadways.” Pedestrians are, of course, more vulnerable to distracted drivers as they lack any real protection if they are hit by a car.
  • Visibility issues: Due to the density of the city, especially in retail locations, it can be difficult to notice who is around your vehicle. In addition, if there are many parked vehicles in these areas, it can also become challenging to see or notice shoppers, children, and pedestrians making their way across the streets. This is the primary reason for Assemblyman Lee’s daylighting bill.
  • Speeding: Another common problem in the LA area is speeding – so common, in fact, that the City is now using speed cameras as part of its enforcement efforts. Speeding drivers are especially dangerous because they may be unable to prevent a crash, and because greater speeds means greater force upon impact.
  • Vehicle size: Los Angeles was a city designed for cars, and those cars keep getting bigger. The average SUV or pickup truck is so tall that drivers may not even see pedestrians. The design of the vehicles also means that pedestrians are hit in the torso (as opposed to the legs), which increases the risk of catastrophic or fatal injury.
  • Crosswalk issues: Broken signals or missing street signs can make crosswalks unsafe by giving pedestrians a false sense of security. Missing crosswalks also pose a risk, as pedestrians have no guide for crossing a street.

Los Angeles has one other unique consideration that could have raised the number of pedestrian fatalities: its homeless population. Per Spectrum News, “homeless cyclists and pedestrians are 40 times more likely to die in traffic collisions than the population as a whole.” The city’s homeless population is estimated to be around 75,000 people.

What types of losses can you claim for a pedestrian accident in Los Angeles?

If you or a loved one was struck by a vehicle and sustained injuries, you can seek compensation for:

  • Medical costs;
  • Lost income;
  • Diminished quality of life;
  • Loss of companionship;
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Permanent disability; and
  • Disfigurement and scarring.

If your loved one died as a result of a pedestrian accident, California allows you to not only claim burial and funeral losses for the accident, but you also claim pain and suffering on behalf of the deceased.

The Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorneys at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP have what it takes to advocate for your rights and demand the proper compensation you need and deserve to rebuild your life again. Please call our office or complete our contact form to schedule your free case review today. All case reviews are currently being conducted virtually.

Please note that this blog is not to be construed as legal advice. Because every case is fact-specific, you should consult directly with an attorney to obtain legal advice specific to your situation.