As a Los Angeles traffic accident attorney, I know that traffic collisions are prevalent in L.A., and the city experiences higher auto accident fatality rates than do other similar cities around the U.S. In 2016, 260 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in Los Angeles. When the city is compared to others, Los Angeles had a fatality rate of 6.27 deaths per 100,000 people in 2012. Chicago, by contrast, had a fatality rate of 5.34 deaths per 100,000 people, and New York City had a fatality rate of 3.21 deaths per 100,000 people. It is clear that Los Angeles has a serious problem with motor vehicle crashes. In an effort to reduce the number of traffic injuries and fatalities, the city has adopted an initiative to reach zero traffic fatalities in the city by 2025.
Common types of Los Angeles traffic accidents
Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists in Los Angeles have much higher risks of dying in accidents than do other types of travelers. Pedestrians and bicyclists are involved in 14 percent of accidents in the city but account for more than half of all of the fatalities that occur. Motorcyclists are involved in 3 percent of Los Angeles accidents but comprise 15 percent of the fatalities that happen. Many of the accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists happen at intersections when vehicles are turning. Motorcyclists may be involved in accidents when motorists turn, pull out into traffic or change lanes while failing to see the motorcycles.
Speed is a major factor in numerous accidents in the city. Other common types of accidents in the city are caused by distracted driving when drivers are texting or talking on their cell phones, changing their radios, eating or doing other distracting things while they drive. With the stop-and-go traffic that frequently happens on the city’s main arteries, rear-end often occur. A large percentage of accidents are also caused by people who fail to obey traffic signals and stop signs. Some motorists speed up when the traffic lights turn yellow in an effort to make it through intersections, but they then hit cars in the intersections because the lights have turned red by the time they reach the intersections. Drunk driving remains a big problem despite the availability of alternate means of transportation in Los Angeles, including public transportation, taxis and ride-share services. Finally, many accidents happen at night when visibility is poor.
Campaign to reduce accidents and injuries
Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive directive in Aug. 2015 in order to launch Los Angeles’s Vision Zero Initiative. The aim of the initiative is to use data-driven research in order to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities over 10 years. The city believes that it can reach its goal of having zero traffic fatalities by 2025.
The initiative is focused on improvements through engineering to make roadways safer to use for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and motorists who are sharing them. Los Angeles believes gathering data and thoroughly evaluating it is key to understanding where the most problematic areas lie. The city has identified a number of streets that it calls the high-injury network. While these streets make up just 6 percent of the roadways in the city, 65 percent of the fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents happen on them. Los Angeles is focusing on installing improvements on these streets in order to meet its initial goal of reducing traffic fatalities by 20 percent during 2017.
Stepped-up enforcement of traffic laws is another component of the Vision Zero Initiative. Law enforcement agencies will work together to focus on high-risk driving behaviors, including speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving and others. The city is also focused on education as an important factor in reaching the goal of zero deaths by 2025.
Problems with accident-reduction plans
Traffic accidents are largely preventable, and the city’s efforts may help to reduce the number of deaths that occur through its combination of approaches. Unfortunately, however, it is impossible to force all drivers to drive with reasonable care, and there will always be some drivers who drive negligently and cause accidents as a result. Even if Los Angeles and other cities around the country are unable to reach their goals of zero traffic deaths, any reduction in the number of fatalities would be welcome.
Los Angeles and other cities with drive to zero initiatives are following in the footsteps of Sweden. In 1997, the Swedish Government wrote a law called the Vision Zero plan. The country’s fatality rate has halved since 2000 as a result of its initiative. Sweden has focused on infrastructure changes with separate pedestrian zones and barriers to separate cyclists from other vehicles. It has also focused on increased policing to help it get where it is today. Its fatality rate has fallen to fewer than 3 deaths per 100,000 people across the country. If Los Angeles can mirror the success of Sweden’s efforts, it will be a victory even if some deaths still do occur.
Contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney
Los Angeles’s initiative to reach zero traffic deaths within 10 years is laudable. It is important that people drive with caution and avoid violating traffic laws. If people are seriously injured by negligent motorists, they might want to file personal injury lawsuits in order to hold the motorists accountable and to recover damages for their losses. An experienced personal injury attorney might help to recover the maximum monetary amounts for his or her injured clients through skilled negotiation and the correct identification of all available claims and recovery sources. Contact a personal injury attorney today to learn more about the rights that you might have in your own accident case.