There are numerous highways and roads all across Los Angeles. The city has a national reputation for congestion; being stuck in traffic makes the commute to work unbearable. But now the city’s traffic may have a new reputation for being deadly.
Despite the efforts of Los Angeles officials to end traffic deaths in the city altogether, recent statistics show that the trend is in the opposite direction. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that traffic deaths for 2021 in the city totaled 289 through December 25, 2021 – a 21 percent increase from 2020 and a 19 percent increase from 2019. In 2021, the number of severely injured people (defined as people who needed to be transported away from the accident) was 1,465 – a 30 percent increase from 2020.
What are some of the reasons for the increase in Los Angeles traffic deaths?
Pedestrian and cyclist safety groups say the city just isn’t doing a good job. They claim that for decades, Los Angeles has prioritized “fast car travel on its streets at the expense of everyone else using the roads — and the rising death toll is the tragic but inevitable result.”
According to Colin Sweeney, a spokesperson for L.A.’s Department of Transportation, some of the reasons for the rise in traffic fatalities are speeding and reckless driving. Too many Los Angeles accidents involve a driver striking a fixed object – an indication the driver didn’t have control of his/her car. Mr. Sweeney added that another contributing factor to the increase in traffic deaths is the design of the vehicle. New design trends make “cars deadlier than ever before for individuals outside of the vehicle, with heavier frames and the addition of distracting features.”
Back in 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti launched a program, Vision Zero, that aimed to end traffic deaths in the city by 2025. The program’s focal points include the redesign of streets to force people to drive slower and be more aware. While many of these redesigns have been finished, the current reality, according to Sweeney, is that 6 percent of city street miles are where 70 precent of pedestrian deaths occur. Sweeney hopes that as the road projects are prioritized and completed, there will be improvements in the traffic fatality data.
Local safety advocates say that the city’s approach isn’t helping to save lives. Damian Kevitt, executive director of the nonprofit Streets are for Everyone, said “The biggest factor is there’s not the political will to make the hard decisions to save lives.”
Sweeney counters the safety activists by stating that funding is a big problem.
Seleta Reynolds, the LADOT director, estimated her department needed about $80 million to reduce traffic deaths 20% by the end of that year. The percentage wasn’t arbitrary, it was an early goal of Vision Zero.
Instead, LADOT ended up getting about $27 million, roughly a third of what was requested. That year overall traffic deaths dropped 5% — far short of the 20% goal — and pedestrian deaths increased.
Kevitt admits that funding is a problem but another problem is deciding where the Vision Zero program’s funds should be used.
Mayor Garcetti, according to the Los Angeles Times, says that driver distraction due to cellphones is also a major problem. One response has been to add more bike lanes to keep cyclists away from car drivers. He supports “a new state law designed to help cities have more control over speed limits.”
What intersections are contributing to the traffic deaths and serious injuries in Los Angeles?
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) keeps a record of traffic collisions on different city streets. The data is published on the LAPD’s website. According to the LAPD, traffic collisions increased throughout Los Angeles, except for downtown LA, Silver Lake, Eagle Rock, and Boyle Heights.
The LAPD’s data analysis organized the “greatest risk intersections” by all collisions, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents. According to the Los Angeles Times report of the 2021 data, the greatest risk intersections include:
- San Pedro Street and Washington Boulevard in South L.A
- Florence Avenue and Vermont Avenue in South L.A
- Oxnard Street and Van Nuys Boulevard in Van Nuys
- Highland Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood
How can your Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys help me?
At McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP, our Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers work with the surviving family members, the police, our own investigators, and others to show how the car accident, truck accident, pedestrian or bicycle accident happened – and who is responsible. California provides that the claimants in a wrongful death claim include the surviving spouse, a domestic partner, children, and possibly others.
We demand compensation for all the damages California law permits. These damages generally include:
- The funeral and burial expenses
- Any pain and suffering your loved one endured between the time of the accident and their death
- The financial support your loved one would have provided the family members
- Any gifts or inheritances the beneficiaries of the wrongful death action would have reasonably expected
- The value of household services the decedent would have provided
- The loss of affection, society, companionship, protection, education, and sexual relations (for spouses and domestic partners), the decedent would have provided
The personal injury attorneys at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP have the experience and resources to help the families of deceased accident victims obtain justice. Our wrongful death lawyers work with the police and the prosecutors of any criminal cases to bring the strongest case possible. We represent car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian, and bicycle accident victims and families throughout Los Angeles. To schedule a consultation, call our offices or complete our contact form today.
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.
With more than 25 years’ experience as a trial lawyer, Partner Patrick McNicholas exclusively represents victims in personal injury, product liability, sexual assault and other consumer-oriented matters, such as civil rights, aviation disasters and class actions. Learn more about his professional background here.