A 2009 traffic accident study by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) revealed San Francisco has more deaths and injuries caused by automobile collisions than any city in California with a population of at least 250,000 residents. San Francisco suffered 3,745 deaths and injuries due to bicycle and motor vehicle accidents in 2009. San Francisco also ranked first for other types of accidents according to the OTS. In addition to the overall top ranking, San Francisco also ranked number one for victims killed and injured for accidents involving:
- Motorcycles: 293
- Pedestrians (all pedestrians): 736
- Pedestrians (65 and older): 118
- Bicyclists: 522
Many of the features that make the Bay Area and San Francisco one of the most desirable places to live also help create the dangerous conditions that lead to the ranking. The scenic hills, the narrow streets, the dense population, the overcrowded street parking, the huge number of restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues, all lead to the congestion, dangerous intersections and mix of pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, cars and trucks that generate accidents.
A frequent complaint is also the constant violation of basic traffic safety laws. The speeding, running of red lights, bicycles making illegal turns, motorcycles riding along the curb all contributes to the increased chance of death or injury.
More Traffic Laws?
While many might expect this type of report to cause San Francisco to push for additional laws to increase the punishment for traffic violations, local municipalities soon won’t be able to, due to new legislation that goes into effect in July of 2011.
After July, local authorities may not enact or enforce a local ordinance on any matter covered by the California Vehicle Code. This is in an effort to ensure that traffic convictions are recorded by the Department of Motor Vehicles, and to achieve uniform enforcement of traffic laws across the state.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in the San Francisco Bay Area in a motor vehicle, pedestrian or bicycle accident, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help determine if you have a viable case for compensation for your injuries.
San Francisco Is King of Technology, Which Leads to Distracted Driving
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that each day in the United States, eight drivers are killed in crashes that involve a distracted driver in the report. San Francisco’s Bay Area is home to Silicon Valley, the home to Apple and source of some of the nation’s leading technology.
This also means that drivers in the area are using their smartphones and the newest technology, and if they are doing so while driving, they are breaking the law. When a driver is breaking the law, and they cause an accident with you, you are entitled to damages for their liable behavior.
The Bay Area of California has not only a high concentration of drivers but also pedestrians, and if you’ve been in an accident as a pedestrian or driver, you may be entitled to damages.
Distracted Driving Is Illegal in California
The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) has prioritized distracted driving as a behavior to target with enforcement and other reduction measures. The OTS notes distracted driving as a leading cause of drivers failing to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the steering wheel.
In California, drivers cannot use their cellphone or other electronic communication devices while holding them in their hands. Only the hands-free function of electronic communication devices is allowed in California. The OTS notes that using a phone while driving is not only dangerous, but it increases the risk of getting into a car crash by three times.
Recognizing the substantial dangers associated with distracted driving, the OTS has launched a campaign with the slogan “Put Your Phone Down. Just Drive” to promote public awareness of the significant safety issue associated with distracted driving. Knowing when another driver in your accident was distracted before the crash can be difficult, if not impossible, for you to determine, underlining the value of an attorney to help ask the right questions of the other drivers and any witnesses present.
Speeding or Distracted Driving Is Negligent by Default
When you are in a car accident, and another driver is at fault, you are entitled to damages. The law bases this upon the concept of “negligence per se,” which means that when someone is breaking the law, they are liable for any damages or injury that might result. Knowing when another driver is at fault will depend upon whether some laws and statutes apply to the facts and circumstances of your case.
Collecting evidence to determine what other drivers were doing will depend upon witnesses, other drivers’ statements, as well as police reports related to the incident. Accidents in San Francisco are surprisingly common, and working with a local attorney to determine whether local factors or driver liability were to blame for the accident.
Pedestrians Injured in Motor Vehicle Accidents Are Often Entitled to Damages
The California Office of Traffic Safety has publications in support of keeping those on foot safe on the roads and sidewalks of California. Pedestrians are suffering injuries or dying at increasing rates in California, and according to the OTS, “walking is becoming increasingly dangerous.”
In a recent year, 893 pedestrians were killed on California roadways, while over 14,000 were injured. In support of pedestrian safety, the OTS has presented safety tips for drivers, in addition to publishing reminders of traffic rules concerning pedestrians. If a driver was in a school zone, they must not only follow the rules of the zone in terms of speed but also recognize that pedestrians may be crossing in front of or behind their vehicles. Drivers must be watchful of pedestrians and follow the local traffic laws, or they are liable for any injuries caused.
When an individual is operating a motor vehicle, they must drive responsibly given that their vehicle weighs many tons. In terms of pedestrians, motorists must not only follow the rules of the road but also be conscious of pedestrians who might be trying to traverse it. Knowing the local rules related to pedestrians will help determine when drivers are at fault in accidents, and an experienced pedestrian accident lawyer in your San Francisco area can help.
San Francisco Driving Risks FAQs
Are California roads safer to drive on than in other states?
The state of California is quite large and has both rural areas with high-speed coastal highways and congested metropolitan cities, and each area has its own unique driving risks, risks that drivers must pay attention to to prevent accidents.
Is using a cell phone or smartphone safe while driving?
Using a cellular phone or other electronic communication devices while driving increases the chance of a crash by three times, and if another driver in your accident was using a cellphone or other device while driving, they not only made it more likely an accident would happen, they also broke the law.
Can drivers legally use a cellphone while driving in California?
If you were in an accident when the other driver used a cellphone without hands-free technology, they have broken California traffic law and must pay for any damages that you suffered in the accident.