It’s common knowledge that the Bay Area is a particularly dangerous place to drive or cycle. In fact, it has more motor vehicle accident injuries per-mile-driven than any other sizeable city in California, as stated by the Office of Traffic Safety. Unfortunately, the danger does not stop there: San Francisco may be the most dangerous place in the U.S. for pedestrians.
On a typical day, two pedestrians are hit by motorists in San Francisco. When a pedestrian is hit by a car they may be lucky to only receive a few bumps or bruises, but most are not that fortunate. Tragically, 35 pedestrians were killed by San Francisco motorists in 2008. In the City by the Bay, pedestrian fatalities account for 35 percent of all fatal traffic accidents, as reported by the San Francisco Department of Health.
The numbers are telling: cars are failing to see and yield to pedestrians. Although the pedestrian-accident problem has been around for decades, the danger has been growing in recent years. In response, organizations such as Walk San Francisco have formed to advocate public and government awareness of the daily dangers that pedestrians face.
While advocates and government agencies are attempting to increase pedestrian safety, don’t expect to see dramatic changes overnight. Those walking in San Francisco should follow some safe practices to help their chances of safely reaching their destination:
- Use crosswalks to safely travel across a street.
- Obey signals at intersections that have walk and don’t walk signs.
- Be visible by wearing bright and reflective clothing. At nighttime, a flashlight or headlamp can greatly increase your visibility.
- Don’t trust vehicles to yield to you at intersections. Even if you have the right-of-way, proceed cautiously.
- Be especially careful during 3 – 6 p.m., this is the City’s deadliest time for walkers, as reported by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
Motorists in San Francisco will continue to injure pedestrians – even those using good pedestrian safety practices. Cars, trucks and motorcycles are so fast that even the quickest walker or runner is no match. The sad reality is that the problem will continue to plague our City for years to come. In San Francisco, it’s probably best to know what steps to take if you are the victim of a pedestrian accident.
If You are Hit by a Car
There are a few things to remember if you are struck by a motorist while walking:
- Look around if you can; Are you in danger of being hit again? If you can safely move, get yourself out of traffic and harm’s way.
- Call the police – better yet – have someone do it for you. You may be in shock and severely injured, someone nearby will gladly call make the call for you.
- Gather witnesses and collect their information. Ask them for their name and contact information as well as a statement on what they witnessed.
- Speak with the driver if they didn’t flee the scene. Get their contact and insurance info. If it was a hit-and-run, nearby witnesses will probably have information regarding the make, model, color and license plates of the vehicle.
- Take pictures as soon as possible. Document the accident site, the vehicle involved, and any injuries you sustained.
- Wait for the responders. Talk to the police and provide a statement if you are able. Get the officer’s name and badger number.
- Get to the hospital. Accept an ambulance ride if you have significant injuries, if you are unsure then you should probably err on the side of caution. If you choose not to take an ambulance, make sure someone else gets you to the hospital soon; inflammation and pain comes quickly after an accident.
- Do not accept an insurance offer without first contacting a San Francisco pedestrian accident lawyer. The insurance company does not represent your interests and is looking to minimize its costs.
A skilled personal injury attorney works as your advocate to obtain proper compensation. A reputable lawyer can do accident investigation and reconstruction, and will use the findings to obtain the best outcome available for you.