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State of California Claims Improved Traffic Safety: Is it True?

The California Office of Traffic Safety reported the good news that overall traffic fatalities in the state were down by 10.3 percent in 2009, the lowest level since statistics were first kept in 1975. Traffic safety seemed to increase overall, with alcohol-impaired fatalities down by 7.6 percent from 2008. Seat belt usage was up even among teen drivers, and motorcycle fatalities declined for the first time since 1998.

The euphoria over the appearance of increased traffic safety, however, must be tempered by the reality that traffic accidents still constitute the fifth-leading cause of death in the nation’s largest state. Among 15- to 19-year-olds, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death.

Although motorcycle accident fatalities were down in 2009, motorcycle registrations had also decreased. The depressed economy is a factor in limiting the number of motorists and bikers on the roadways, especially during holidays, when traffic congestion is high and there are fewer accidents as a result.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, motorcycle, truck and motor vehicle accidents continue to plague the roadways despite the rosy statistics suggesting that these highways are safer than ever. For pedestrians, San Francisco is certainly no mecca for crossing the street, an action that accounts for about 800 accidents involving pedestrians each year. Pedestrian fatalities represent about 35 percent of all traffic fatalities in San Francisco annually. Among pedestrians age 65 and older, the fatality rate increased by 14.6 percent from 2008 to 2009.

California is also the second-leading state for bicycle accidents . This is not surprising, given its large population and bicycle-friendly municipalities such as those in the Bay Area, which boasts a large number of bicycle lanes and advocacy groups that continually lobby for more protection from motorists. With the large number of cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles in a densely populated area, bicyclists are never safe from impatient, intoxicated or distracted motorists, who often fail to consider bicyclists as an equal member of the roadway.

Being injured in an accident can have devastating and permanent consequences. If you have been injured or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident involving a motor vehicle, you should promptly contact an experienced San Francisco car accident attorney, who can explain your legal options and protect your rights.

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